MORE THAN A BEST FRIEND

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by Alice Thomson

We’ve all heard it said that dogs are man’s best friend. It appears to hold true – in the UK one in two households owns a pet and in 2015 it was estimated that the pet population stood at 8.5 million dogs and 7.4 million cats. With so many of us owning and loving our pets, the idea that dogs can be more than faithful companions isn’t that surprising. The ones who know that the best are likely the 7000-plus disabled people in the UK who depend on assistance dogs for care ranging from alerting those with epilepsy of an oncoming seizure, guiding the blind, or helping someone with limited mobility to perform daily activities. They are even used for therapeutic needs, often for those suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety or depression.

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LONE WOLF: THE RACIALISING OF TERROR

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by Candice Nembhard

I was fortunate enough recently to discuss race and race relations with a dear friend of mine. We covered numerous standpoints and theories, but the heart of the conversation was all about exposing the power of language – specifically, how it is inherently embedded with racist structures.

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PUBLIC LANDS ARE UNDER THREAT IN AMERICA

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by Tara Gulwell

America’s National Park Service (NPS) has been catching a lot of attention in the press recently. After tweeting out pictures from Obama’s 2008 inauguration and Trump’s, the NPS’s twitter account was instructed to temporality stop using twitter. The account for Badlands National Park defied the gag however, tweeting out facts about climate change, leading to speculation that this was an act of criticism directed at President Trump’s past comments concerning global warming. So-called “rogue” accounts from NPS employers have since sprung up on twitter, though it should be said that the identity of the account-holders are not verified.

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CAN WE CALL IT LOVE?

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by Alice Thomson

(Content warning: mention of sexual assault)

I’m sure you’ve all noticed the Valentine’s Day gifts and cards that seem to be everywhere at the moment. Like Christmas, it’s almost impossible to avoid. When I got outside I can barely move for all the soppy rom-coms, chocolates and flowers that are being bandied about. And all of them carry connotations of sex.

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THE TROLL VOTE: WHAT TIPPED TRUMP TO VICTORY?

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by Sunetra Senior

In a socio-political climate where rape jokes and racism are very much in the mainstream, let’s not be afraid to call a troll a troll. The left is falling into the tendency to self-chastise after election defeats, even as a sinister phenomenon rises outside of our camp, and now more than ever requires our passionate standing. Over the past couple of months, the “Alt-Right” movement – a storm of right-wing publications primarily driven by Neo-fascist groups that use the web to circulate hate gossip and headlines to forward the far right’s agenda – has been confirmed to be a significant factor in the dissented zeitgeist of the US elections.  The Guardian’ s Jason Wilson said of the self-professed ‘platform for the Alt-right’– Breitbart News – that ‘the ideal Breitbart headline is provocative and designed to offend progressive sensibilities’, and that ‘they went with the stuff that got them the most hits and the most attention using the most extreme clickbait they could come up with’. For me, a further examination of this extremist social runaway train signals an alarming topple over an ideological precipice: the end to free-thinking and western democracy as we know it.

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A CREATIVE DISTANCE

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by Candice Nembhard

For the past few weeks I have been mulling over the phrase ‘What’s in a name?’

Famously posed in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the question itself addresses a complex struggle between society’s influence and personal principles. For Juliet, Montague is a cursed history and a treasured ill fate. By virtue of being Capulet, her query is a forceful defiance to alter the course of her history, thus changing the alliance to her name, her lover’s name, and the relation between the two families.

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MY CONFESSION

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by Alice Thomson

It’s January, and we all know what that means. Short days, cold weather, no money and January Blues. For many, this can be a tough, unhappy time of year. For some – especially those with mental illnesses – it can be even worse. One in four people suffer with depression. I am part of that one in four. This is for them, and for those want to try to understand.

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