The origin of morality in light of self-determination and its impact upon legislation

Underlying the thoughts and considerations that are to follow are two main emotions. For one, unease; a feeling which stems from a failure to understand how it is possible to support two contradictory ideologies, and still believe them capable of coexisting peacefully: libertarianism on the one side; socialism on the other. For another, anger; a feeling which stems from the lack of consistency with which current rules and conventions, which we are all expected to follow, are being made.

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The hypocrisy in modern politics

The word ‘idealistic’ is becoming increasingly linked to dogmatism, to extremes that few wish to identify themselves with. In this sense it is becoming dirty, foul, insulting; the hidden, or perhaps no longer hidden connotations associated with it suggesting a mindset of being undemocratic and irresponsible. Yet idealism may also be used in a very contrasting way, in the sense of political consistency: a fight against double standards and unjust, situational treatment of citizens. Idealism in this sense is a worthwile pursuit, because it allows not just the determination of underlying principles reflected in certain value-based needs, but far more the homogenous installation and application of these principles in a system that represents all citizens, and not just those who happen to find themselves in a specific jurisdiction at a particular moment in time.

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‘Hey Cabral, where’s Amarildo?’

BY MARIANA TORRES

Versão em português  (English version below)

Ei, Cabral, cadê o Amarildo?

Essa foi a pergunta gritada por dezenas de pessoas nas ruas do Brasil durante alguns meses em 2013.

Amarildo Dias de Souza é um ajudante de pedreiro brasileiro que ficou conhecido nacionalmente por conta de seu desaparecimento, no dia 14 de julho de 2013, após ter sido detido por policiais militares, na Favela da Rocinha, em direção a sede da Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora do bairro, ironia que essa mesma polícia que foi elaborada com os princípios da polícia de proximidade, um conceito que vai além da polícia comunitária e tem sua estratégia fundamentada na parceria entre a população e as instituições da área de Segurança Pública. Atualmente quem está no comando das Unidades de Polícia Pacificadoras é o ex-comandante do Batalhão de Operações Especiais (Bope) da Polícia Militar (conhecida sua pela maneira “efusiva” de atuação).

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European arrogance?

Since the founding of the EU in Maastricht in 1993, the European idea has surpassed mere economic cooperation to both political and social spheres, and beyond. Citizens living within any of the countries encompassed by this label increasingly identify with ‘being’ European, and certain European ideals have begun to crystallise out. Values such as human rights, freedom of speech, the acceptance of racial and religious diversity; the list is long, and the shared support of such values, indeed their implementation, universal. Through its creation the European idea has opened the door for a shift away from extreme forms of nationalism that ultimately lead to conflict, and offered the possibility of collectively solving previously untouchable problems. This extension of human cooperation into the field of politics that was formerly kept isolated between nations thus presents us with a real opportunity for meaningful change. Such potential has quickly become reality, and European citizens have seen their average quality of life rapidly augment: open borders; a reliable and trustworthy judicial system; the establishment of vast safety nets by the state, to name just a few.

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Lessons not learned

Europe over the last decade was confronted with the worrying development of uprisings by young people without any sort of apparent political goal. As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the 2005 Paris riots, we would like to ask whether lessons have been learned from these events. Considering the fast pace of today’s media, which barely allows for the consideration of a problem before covering us with a mountain of ‘newer’ issues, have politicians pushed through those promised measures, with which we were appeased in the immediate aftermath of each period of unrest? Did they tackle the actual causes, which include mostly a lack of opportunities and social inclusion of young disadvantaged people- or was the issue left to fade slowly from our memories? Too often do we forget pressing issues of the more recent past, and therefore fail to ask whether the problems that we were briefly so concerned with have actually been solved.

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Über das Archivische in der Photographie

Über das Archivische in der Photographie

Um sich des archivischen Charakters der Photographie bewusst zu werden, bedarf es einer klaren Definition des Begriffs Archivieren.

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Archivieren bezeichnet das systematische Aufnehmen, Erfassen, Ordnen und Aufbewahren von Informationen (Archivalien). Der Begriff Archiv bezeichnet den Ort der Aufbewahrung, die archivierende Institution oder schlicht die Gesamtheit aller Archivalien.

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One last call for the legalisation of cannabis

Although considered acceptable on an individual basis by many, little has changed to the cannabis laws across most of Europe over the last few years. Not, actually, since its reclassification in Britain from Class C to Class B drug in May 2008[1], moving it up the scale away from ‘soft drugs’ like anabolic steroids, and towards the ‘harder drugs’ of the Class A crack and cocaine, amongst others.[2] In the aftermath of this change in policy, Professor David Nutt was sacked from his position as head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (the UK government’s official advisory body) for outing criticism against the decision in light of scientific evidence.[3] It is my belief that this is just one example of politicians refusing to reflect upon the state of cannabis legality from a neutral standpoint, and I will now attempt to bring some transparency into the picture.

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WMDs: Widespread Media Deception and the 2003 invasion of Iraq

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BY ROSS MORAN

Air strikes on Iraq!’ Does this remind you of anything? The 1990 Gulf War? Or, maybe the 2003 invasion? Either-or, we’re here again.  Less than three years after the last convoy of British and American troops left Iraq following the humiliating 2003 invasion, the United States and its allies are beginning another intervention in Iraq – this time to combat the growing threat of the Islamic State (or IS, or ISIS, or ISIL, or whatever they liked to be called).

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An introduction to the defence against neurobiological reductionism

It was whilst studying neuroanatomy during my third semester at medical school that I first came across the problem of neurobiological reductionism. We had three weeks to prepare for this fourth and final part of the cadaver dissection course, and so I delved into the realms of our brain and spinal chord, the ‘central part’ of our nervous system, learning about the various lobes, the basal ganglia, the limbic system, the brain stem and so on. It wasn’t until learning about the frontal lobe, which includes the prefrontal cortex – a structure that’s widely held responsible for many of the characteristics that separate human beings from all other living things- that I began to think about the meaning of such understanding for the concepts about our own actions, and indeed for free will in itself. An often used example when explaining the functions of the prefrontal cortex is the tragic story of the young American railroad construction worker Phineas Gage. He was the head of a small unit of men within the rail company, described by those who knew him as extremely capable; an excellent worker as well as a respected leader. During an accidental explosion in 1848, an iron rod was knocked into Mr. Gage in such a way that it ‘entered on the side of his face, shattering the upper jaw, and passing back of the left eye, and out at the top of the head’1, cutting in its path through the connections between limbic system (held responsible for motivation and human drives) and the prefrontal cortex. It didn’t, however, damage his brain stem, and he was thus left alive. To the general astonishment of medics at the time, Phineas Gage recovered fully from the accident. He was able to see with his other eye, his vital organs worked normally, he was able to walk, talk, eat, drink and appear generally like a well-functioning human being. Yet emotionally, Mr. Gage changed. He became erratic and uninhibited in his behaviour. He lost his job and his friends. His post-accident behaviour was compared to that of a child. Anatomically, everything still worked the way that it should do, except for the damaged connections within his brain. The prefrontal cortex was cut off from the limbic system, and this showed in his behaviour. Interestingly, it has often been claimed that Mr. Gage later managed to relearn some of his social capacity- the changes were apparently not permanent.

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“Und jetzt Odessa” – Abends vor dem Fernseher

Ein etwas älterer Artikel zum Beginn der Ukraine-Krise, der trotz aller neuen Entwicklungen ein immer noch aktuelles Thema anspricht. (Zur Erläuterung: Der Autor leistet seit Anfang März 2014 einen Freiwilligendienst in Ufa, Russland ab)

Ich wohne jetzt seit knapp zwei Wochen bei einer Gastfamilie, das heißt, ich kam ein paar Tage vor dem Krim-Referendum an. Im Gegensatz zu Deutschland, ist das in Russland genug Zeit um eine Beziehung zueinander aufzubauen, die eine freie Meinungsäußerung zulässt. Meine Familie, das sind meine Gastgeberin, Elina Nurowna, ihr Ehemann Ilnur, der 9-jährige Sohn Davlad, und die Eltern von Elina; zum einen Teil tartarisch, zum anderen Teil baschkirisch. Nach meiner Einschätzung, die natürlich noch nicht von sehr vielen Russland Erfahrungen zehren kann, eine Familie des gehobenen Mittelstands. Ein komfortables, 3-geschossiges Haus am Ende der Straße einer Wohnsiedlung, im Garten ein Hund, eine Banja und im Sommer eigenes Gemüse. Alle studiert oder in angesehenen Berufen, Elina, Soziologin, Ilnur, Polizist, Elinas Mutter, ehemalige Chefärztin in Rente und Elinas Vater, Militär a.D. Ich wurde gastfreundlich, offen und herzlich empfangen und gleich, wie selbstverständlich, in den Alltag aufgenommen. Trotz meiner schlechten Russischkentnisse habe ich versucht, so viel wie möglich an russischer Berichterstattung zur politischen Situation in der Ukraine und an Reaktionen darauf, aufzuschnappen.

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