The nastiest feud in science: Princeton geologist Gerta Keller has endured decades of ridicule for arguing that the fifth extinction was caused not by an asteroid but by a series of colossal volcanic eruptions — but she’s reopened that debate. The world’s worst mass extinction should make you very nervous for our future. The insect apocalypse is here — what does it mean for the rest of life on Earth? Insects, biodiversity, and mass extinction: An alarming new study, explained. Biological annihilation: Subhankar Banerjee on a planet in loss mode. Climate change and the escalation of extinction: As the climate crisis intensifies, try this simple exercise — count how many animals you can’t see.

Escalator to extinction: How mountain species are imperiled by warming. Humans are exterminating animal species faster than evolution can keep up. Humans didn’t cause animal extinctions in Africa, study says. Meet the scientists bringing extinct species back from the dead: New gene-editing technology could revive everything from the passenger pigeon to the woolly mammoth — but should scientists be playing God?

Lewis A. Grossman (American): Life, Liberty, (and the Pursuit of Happiness): Medical Marijuana Regulation in Historical Context. It’s official: Wall Street is bad for your financial health. Here’s why closing the government actually costs taxpayers money. What if actually is a horrible website? Mexico’s new president promised a revolution — has it begun? What the president could do if he declares a state of emergency: From seizing control of the Internet to declaring martial law, President Trump may legally do all kinds of extraordinary things. Resist the lure of theological politics: Instead of applying religious certainty to public debates, Americans need to take a different lesson from their faith traditions.

Byron E. Shafer and Regina L. Wagner (Wisconsin): The Trump Presidency and the Structure of Modern American Politics. Noam Chomsky, Richard Dawkins, Martin Rees and others answer the question: What’s your utopia? Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse our polarization problem. Why does such a thinker as Ayn Rand persist in being taken seriously by otherwise smart people? What the fall of the Roman Republic can teach us about America. Can the language of the Vikings fight off the invasion of English? Why air service is so crucial for small cities: As airlines cut small-plane services and consolidate bigger cities, some communities are suffering.

John Henry (Bard): Reflections on the New Deal: The Vested Interests, Limits to Reform, and the Meaning of Liberal Democracy. The US has a surprisingly large amount of public ownership — but in order for it to truly serve the social good, it must be expanded — and democratized. The case for a mixed economy: Maybe not everything should be privatized. Stephanie Kelton has the biggest idea in Washington. Jared Bernstein interviews Isabel Sawhill, author of The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation. Millennials didn’t kill the economy — the economy killed millennials. The hard truths of trying to “save” the rural economy.

The 2018 economy, in 11 graphs: The good, the bad, and the ugly. For the American economy, storm clouds on the horizon. A recession is coming — Trump is going to make the recovery worse. No, Donald Trump is not leaving us poorly prepared for the next recession. Trump fears greatest economy in history is on brink of collapse. Economy is strong, leadership is shaky — which will win out in 2019?

Mark Camilleri (Malta): The Tourism Industry: An Overview. The generals won’t save us: People who saw Jim Mattis as a check against Trump misunderstand the role of the military in a democracy. James Meek reviews Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now by Alan Rusbridger (and more and more). Democrats can win back rural America, but first they need to understand what bled it dry. Why fights over immigration keep shutting down the government. Borders don't make a country: A border is just one thing that makes America great. Moral holiday shopping is harder than you think. Dammit, it's still obstruction even if it happens in plain sight. The introduction to Can Politics Be Thought by Alain Badiou.

From Foucault Studies, a special issue on Foucault and Philosophical Practice. Two decades after his last deadly act of ecoterrorism, the Unabomber has become an unlikely prophet to a new generation of acolytes. How Sherrod Brown turned his rumpled authenticity into a brand — and gave himself a good story to tell in 2020. Gritty’s evolution from googly-eyed hockey mascot to meme to leftist avatar, explained. In Syria, Assad’s government is doubling down on executions of political prisoners. Michael Kazin reviews These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore (and more and more). Strong men, caring women: How Americans describe what society values (and doesn’t) in each gender. Why the power elite continues to dominate American politics.

Francis Kuriakose (EUR) and Deepa Iyer (Cambridge): Human Rights in the Big Data World. Kimberly Houser (Oklahoma State) and W. Gregory Voss (Toulouse): GDPR: The End of Google and Facebook or a New Paradigm in Data Privacy? Paul-Olivier Dehaye and Michele Loi (Zurich): If Data is the New Oil, When is the Extraction of Value from Data Unjust? William McGeveran (Minnesota): The Duty of Data Security. Why do we care so much about privacy? Big Tech wants to exploit our personal data, and the government wants to keep tabs on us — but “privacy” isn’t what’s really at stake. “Owning your data” will not save you from data capitalism. Google’s Earth: How the tech giant is helping the state spy on us.

Kieron O’Hara (Southampton): Where Shall We Draw the Line? Conservatism, Privacy and Digital Modernity. Jordan M. Blanke (Mercer): Top Ten Reasons to Be Optimistic About Privacy. Welcome to the age of privacy nihilism: The personal-data privacy war is long over, and you lost.

Lindsay F. Wiley (American): Medicaid for All? State-Level Single-Payer Health Care. Trump wants to end the filibuster — he’s right. Both parties see little to lose and big points to make in shutdown fight. This could be a really long government shutdown. Corbyn faces furious Labour backlash over backing Brexit. Samuel Moyn on why law schools are bad for democracy: They whitewash the grubby scramble for power. Glee in Russia over Trump’s foreign policy largess (and more). How connected is your community to everywhere else in America? Here is a map of every building in America. Scott McLemee reviews Authoritarianism: Three Inquiries in Critical Theory by Wendy Brown, Peter E. Gordon and Max Pensky. What was Steve Mnuchin thinking? Annie Lowrey on three possibilities.

Margaret Ryznar (Indiana): #MeToo and Tax. Three reasons that Jim Mattis’s resignation is not just unusual — but startling. Trump can launch nuclear weapons whenever he wants, with or without Mattis. Trump forces Mattis out two months early, names Shanahan acting defense secretary. There never were any “adults in the room”: The only real grown-ups in American politics are in the resistance (and more). What is glitter? A strange journey to the glitter factory. The yellow vests are here to stay. Women’s March roiled by accusations of anti-Semitism. Facebook’s very bad year, explained. Why do we pledge allegiance? An excerpt from Inventing American Tradition by Jack David Eller. Rachel Sugar on the weird hegemony of “birthday cake” flavor.

Siyuan Yu (Skidmore): An Examination of the Attitudes towards Immigration across U.S. Demographic Groups. Joni Hersch (Vanderbilt): Colorism Against Legal Immigrants to the United States. Pramila Jayapal on a new moral imagination on immigration. Responding to an extremely common question about immigration: Doesn’t a country have the right to enforce its laws and decide who comes in? From Cato Unbound, does the constitution give the federal government power over immigration? America didn’t always lock up immigrants: Our current detention policies have very specific historical roots. So how is the immigration debate going?

The prosecution of naturalized United States citizens is a sign of a gathering storm: Is denaturalization the next front in the Trump Administration’s war on immigration? Trump is officially turning back asylum seekers who come to the US through Mexico. Trump is outsourcing the migrant crisis to Mexico. “It’s functioning exactly as intended”: Our border policy is designed to be deadly.

Calvert W. Jones (Maryland) and Celia Paris (Toronto): It’s the End of the World and They Know It: How Dystopian Fiction Shapes Political Attitudes. Daniel Drezner on the limits of the executive branch. Here is why people are terrified of a “no-deal” Brexit. David A. Graham on James Mattis’s final protest against the president (and more). The growth of Sinclair’s conservative media empire: The company has achieved formidable reach by focussing on small markets where its TV stations can have a big influence. Sarah Mesle interviews American Studies Association president Rod Ferguson on what might emerge — politically, subjectively, spiritually — from intellectual engagement with American Studies in the crises of our present time.

The 2020 Democratic presidential primary will not be a repeat of 2016 (and more). Mikhaila Fogel and Benjamin Wittes on Bill Barr’s very strange memo on obstruction of justice. Congress is enraged at Facebook: “These guys are out of control” (and more). Is Facebook a psychopath? If corporations are people, they need to abide by the standards of decent, civilized behavior. The Facebook scandal isn’t really about social media — it’s about capitalism. The U.S. suicide rate is at its highest in a half-century. One year after Trump’s tax cuts, the only obvious winners are investors. “Election night” is an outdated and dangerous relic of the past. Trump and Congress just legalized hemp. So, is Trump’s America great yet?

From the Congressional Research Service, a report on Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response. The new Arab order: Power and violence in today’s Middle East. Iraq’s post-ISIS campaign of revenge: The corruption and cruelty of the state’s response to suspected jihadis and their families seem likely to lead to the resurgence of the terror group. Is major realignment taking place in the Middle East? Why Turkey is pivoting toward Iran and Russia. Syria’s last bastion of freedom: Amid the brutal civil war, a town fought off the regime and the fundamentalists and dared to hold an election — can its experiment in democracy survive? Muhammad Idrees Ahmad on how Assad made truth a casualty of war.

Christopher Rossi (Iowa): Game of Thrones: The Qatar Crisis and Forced Expulsions on the Arabian Peninsula. Beth Van Schaack (Stanford): Transitional Justice Pre-Transition: The International Community’s Efforts in Syria. The case for leaving Syria: With the military and various domestic programs facing budget cuts, the United States shouldn’t be throwing more money at the Middle East. Can a new president and prime minister solve Iraq’s broken politics? The next Arab uprising: Marwan Muasher on the collapse of authoritarianism in the Middle East. “Ideas cannot be killed with weapons”: Why the assassination of Raed Fares, Syria’s most prominent citizen journalist, matters.

Michael P. Scharf (Case Western): Striking a Grotian Moment: How the Syria Airstrikes Changed International Law Relating to Humanitarian Interventions. The Great Game in West Asia examines the strategic competition between Iran and Turkey for power and influence in the South Caucasus. What elections in Iran can teach us about voting in the United States. Are U.S. troops really leaving Syria? No one knows what’s happening with Trump’s Syria decision.

Tom Stern (UCL): Must We Choose between Real Nietzsche and Good Philosophy? A Streitschrift. In tiny Bhutan, known for its pursuit of happiness, democracy brings discontent. Facebook caps off 2018 with yet another massive privacy scandal. Amazon and Facebook reportedly had a secret data-sharing agreement, and it explains so much. The Green New Deal is good for the planet — and the Democratic Party: Democrats can no longer get away with offering milquetoast solutions. Where does the Democratic Left go from here? There is no one to cheer for in the potential battle between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek. Why were so many journalists murdered in 2018? Nevada becomes first state with majority female legislature.

Inside Venezuela’s YouTube prank economy: Luke Winkie on why some people are paying strangers on Fiverr $5 to slime themselves. Rebecca Traister on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the imagined threat of a woman who governs like a man. Elisabeth Eaves on a highly hackable US biodefense system. Here comes the 2020 election interference — it will be worse. New York already has thousands of Amazon workers — and some are unionizing to demand better conditions. The concept creep of “emotional labor”: The term has become a central part of an important conversation about the division of household work — but the sociologist who coined it says it’s being used incorrectly.