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We must talk to terrorists to restore their humanity – and ours The Conversation 20/04/2015

To counteract terrorism, military force and policing is a default tactic – and talking to terrorists, by contrast, may feel counter-intuitive. But a recent debate organised by a UK university between a former terrorist, the daughter of terrorist attack victim and experts on extreme violence has found that creating a dialogue with terrorists can bring their violence to an end. It means understanding terrorism, and the individual motivations behind their actions, in an entirely new way. “Talking to terrorists does not imply blind acceptance of their motivations or methods … [it] allows individuals who use violence … to see the consequences of their actions on a human scale, not a political one.”

Game theory of Thrones: how strategy might decide who rules Westeros The Conversation 13/04/2015

For the uninitiated, game theory is a branch of maths that looks at problems of competition and co-operation. It assumes basic rationality and then looks at what each of the parties will achieve in a situation, conditional on other parties wanting to do their best also. But can it predict who will end up on the Iron Throne? As massive hit series Game of Thrones returns, UCL’s Peter Antonioni uses mathematical models to examine the behaviour of George R R Martin’s characters.

Five years ago the iPad changed clicks to touches – but another tablet revolution is coming The Conversation 07/04/2015

Capturing the world’s imagination over the last five years, Apple’s iPad has fundamentally changed the way we think about computing – we now expect to be able to directly interact with screens without the help of a keyboard or mouse. Jason Alexander, Lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction at Lancaster University, says the next revolution is just around the corner. Soon, he claims, we will be dealing with screens that can morph in three dimensions. Flat screens will soon be able to change themselves into other shapes.

UK Couple wins the lottery twice, but will it make them happy? The Conversation 07/04/2015

In March, a British couple beat unbelievable odds of 283-billion-to-one to win a second £1m prize on the EuroMillions lottery. Many of us dream about winning large life-changing amounts of money on games like Lotto. But does winning huge sums of money make us happier and healthier? Mark Griffiths, Director of the International Gaming Research Unit and Professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham Trent University says that after the initial euphoria, the evidence suggests that most people soon return to their own normal levels of happiness.

Five things Terry Pratchett’s Discworld will teach you about science The Conversation 30/03/2015

Resembling an amiable wizard, English fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett wove worlds that were packed with magic. His most famous – Discworld, which featured in 40 of his best-selling novels – was a flat planet balanced on the backs of four elephants which, in turn, stood on the back of a giant turtle. Paradoxically, he was also a great advocate for science. Following Sir Terry’s death from Alzheimer’s in March, his friend, mathematician Ian Stewart reveals five science lessons that Discworld has for us here on Earth.

Can animals ever be artists? The Conversation 30/03/2015

Anthropologists consider art to be a uniquely human activity in which a person produces something for the aesthetic appreciation of others. But what of the beauty of birdsong? Or the intricacy of courtship dances? Bowerbirds make and decorate what is essentially a twig sculpture to impress their mates. Robert John Young, Professor of Wildlife Conservation at University of Salford examines whether any of these can take on the likes of Damien Hirst.

Comment: Whoever killed Boris Nemtsov, Putin is responsible for Russia’s climate of fear The Conversation  09/03/2015

Days after Boris Nemtsov, a leading opponent of Vladimir Putin, was shot dead on a bridge in Moscow, thousands of his supporters marched to the spot where he was murdered. Immediately his death became the subject of rumour and conspiracy theories. Though we may never know who killed him, University of Surrey’s Maxine David argues that his death will have a chilling effect on political discourse.

Humanity is in the existential danger zone, study confirms The Conversation 09/03/2015

A new study shows that humans have, in the context of geological timescales, produced near instantaneous planetary-scale disruption. We are sowing the seeds of havoc on the Earth, it suggests, and the time is fast approaching when we will reap this harvest. Reasons not to be cheerful from University of Southampton’s James Dyke.

Syrian refugees in Athens and the consequences of ‘Fortress Europe’ Open Democracy 15/12/2014

Thousands of Syrian refugees are trying to travel through Turkey, only to find themselves drowning in the Mediterranean, jailed for months in Greek detention centres, or in a legal limbo due to the country's strict asylum policy that affects even war refugees. Those who are allowed to stay have to deal with growing racism and a lack of humanitarian policies in the country. As a result, out of 46,500 Syrians who have arrived in Greece since 2011, only an estimated 1600 have applied for asylum. Greece can, and should, do a lot more to accommodate refugees, says Greek journalist Matthaios Tsimitakis in an opinion piece for Open Democracy.

Changing lives: the Homeless World Cup Freelance 10/11/2014

Freelancers Danielle Batist and Elaine Livingstone recently visited Chile to document the 12th Homeless World Cup. Livingstone is a photographer and her stunning images paint a picture of a magical sporting event. Batist wrote about player Marvin Dulder who was in Santiago to play soccer for Holland. Marvin was 15 years old when he moved from the former Dutch colony of Suriname to the Netherlands with his mother and younger sister. He ended up in the Bijlmer, at the time Holland’s first and only ghetto, and turned to crime before a violent attack by fellow criminals nearly ended his life. Dulder took up football to escape the streets and he hopes to start a Bachelor degree course next year as a mature student.

Children hit hardest by global recession The Conversation UK 03/11/2014

Children have suffered the most as the effects of the global financial crisis are felt across the Western world, a report from children’s charity UNICEF has found. And it is children that will suffer the longest as a result of the financial crisis, the charity adds. Jonathan Bradshaw is a Professor of Social Policy at University of York in the UK and he is also affiliated with Child Poverty Action Group. He writes an opinion piece for The Conversation UK on the back of UNICEF’s findings.

Ben Bradlee The Conversation UK 27/10/2014

Inderjeet Parmar is a Professor in International Politics at City University London, UK. In an opinion piece for The Conversation UK, he writes about Ben Bradlee, executive editor of the Washington Post from 1968 to 1991, during which time the paper exposed the Watergate scandal leading to the downfall of President Richard Nixon. Bradlee was one of the most famous journalists in the world. He died on 21st October 2014.

Live from London: the end of Zimbabwe’s independent exile radio Freelance 15/09/2014

The pioneering exiled independent radio station SW Radio Africa has been forced to pull the plug after thirteen years on the air. The “pirate” station was started in Zimbabwe in 2000 by journalist Gerry Jackson, who won a court case to make independent radio legal after being fired by the state broadcaster for criticising the government. Just six days after her first broadcast, Jackson’s equipment was seized and destroyed by armed guards and Jackson fled to the UK where she and her team broadcast to Zimbabwe from exile in London. Freelance reporter Danielle Batist charts the final days of SW Radio Africa, who challenged the dictatorship of President Robert Mugabe and gave a voice to the millions suffering dire poverty in Africa. Jackson speaks about a great loss of hope following last year’s rigged elections that allowed Mugabe to stay in power.

Ao vivo de Londres: o fim da exilada rádio independente do Zimbábue Freelance 15/09/2014

A exilada e pioneira estação de rádio independente SW Radio Africa foi forçada a desligar a "tomada" depois de treze anos no ar. A estação "pirata" começou no Zimbábue em 2000 pela jornalista Gerry Jackson, a qual ganhou permissão em um processo jurídico para fazer uma rádio independente depois de ser demitida pela emissora estatal por criticar o governo. Apenas seis dias depois da sua primeira transmissão, o equipamento de Jackson foi apreendido e destruído por guardas armados e Jackson voou para o Reino Unido, onde ela e seu time exilados em Londres transmitiram para o Zimbábue. A repórter freelance Danielle Batist acompanha os últimos dias da SW Radio Africa, a qual desafiou a ditadura do Presidente Robert Mugabe e deu voz a milhões de pessoas em situação de extrema pobreza na África. Jackson fala sobre a grande perda de esperança seguida das eleições manipuladas do ano passado que permitiram que Mugabe permanecesse no poder.

Child poverty targets in UK will be missed with austerity to blame The Conversation 01/09/2014

A new report has said that targets to reduce child poverty in Britain by 2020 will not be met. The government’s child poverty strategy, which began in 2010, aimed to reduce the number of children living in poverty to 5% by the end of the decade. In this article for The Conversation, Jonathan Bradshaw of the University of York examines why these targets will inevitably be missed – pointing at the government’s harsh austerity measures as the reason.

Photo essay: China’s internet addicts Reuters / INSP 18/08/2014

As growing numbers of young people spend more and more time online, parents in China have become worried that their children may be addicted to the internet. In our photo essay this week we look at the Qide Education Centre, a military-style boot camp in Beijing that offers treatment for internet addiction for youths.

Who is dying in Afghanistan from US drone strikes? The Bureau of Investigative Journalism 18/08/2014

Afghanistan is the most heavily drone-bombed country in the world as more than 1000 strikes have hit the nation during the past 13 years. Yet there is no public record of when and where these strikes took place, or who they killed, and more is understood of America’s secret campaigns in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia than how drone use has impacted upon Afghanistan. Alice K Ross of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a non-profit investigative organisation in the UK, looks at the vast under-reporting of civilian casualties as a result of drone strikes in Afghanistan.

Murder, rape and prostitution – the everyday reality for Egypt’s street children Open Democracy 14/07/2014

Living on the street brings many risks and the longer people remain there, the more likely they are to suffer some form of abuse. For many thousands of children on the streets of Egypt those risks include gang rape, prostitution, trafficking and murder. In an opinion piece for Open Democracy, Nelly Ali writes about the violence and abuse experienced by the country’s homeless children – a fact many Egyptians are only just becoming aware of as they come closer to poverty themselves due to the nation’s economic problems.

Can you afford to fall in love with a migrant? Open Democracy 14/07/2014

Immigration rules in Britain are forcing married couples on low incomes to separate, policies that are breaking up families in the process. Two years ago, the Coalition government imposed tough new rules requiring sponsors to demonstrate they have a gross income of £18,600 per year. Margaret lived with her husband Mohammed (originally from Tunisia) in South Wales but when his permission to live in Britain expired she discovered she was deemed too poor by the government to sponsor him to stay – despite the fact she could cover both their living costs. Now, because Margaret does not earn the required income of £18,600 per year, Mohammed must leave the UK. Clare Sambrook investigates for Open Democracy.

The grim legacies of mass murderers The Big Issue in the North / The Conversation 23/06/2014

On 2 June 2010, 12 people were shot dead and 11 injured by taxi driver Derrick Bird, in a four hour massacre stretching across West Cumbria, UK. The rampage ended when Bird killed himself. Wilson Boow was a trainee reporter in Barrow at the time and covered the story, pounding the pavements, knocking doors, and piecing together the shocked testimonies of communities left devastated by the attacks. Four years on, Boow revisits the scenes in this article for The Big Issue in the North. To complement the piece we have an article written for The Conversation by Katherine Newman of John Hopkins University about the effects of such massacres on the families of mass murderers. She focused on the recent slayings of six University of California students by Elliot Rodger in the US.

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