Authorities accuse Telesur reporter over interview with FARC hostage

first_img ColombiaAmericas News Follow the news on Colombia Receive email alerts May 13, 2021 Find out more Reporters Without Borders today condemned allegations made by national police director Gen. Oscar Naranjo against journalist William Parra of the pan-Latin American TV news station Telesur over an interview with an army captain, Guillermo Javier Solórzano, who is being held hostage by the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).Gen. Naranjo has accused Parra of being a FARC accomplice and of “manipulating” the interview, which has been broadcast on 25 November as part of a documentary called “Voces desde la Selva” (Voices from the Jungle).“The accusations against Parra are unjustified and could compromise his safety and his ability to work,” the press freedom organisation said. “Gen. Naranjo’s comments are tantamount to saying that a journalist is an accomplice to the events he covers. The list of journalists being branded by senior government officials is getting longer and longer, and some have recently had to leave the country because of threats.”Reporters Without Borders added: “We call on the Colombian government not to let press freedom suffer as a result of the tension with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez over his attempts to mediate in the release of FARC hostages. Another of Telesur’s Colombian correspondents, Freddy Muñoz, was threatened by paramilitaries and detained a year or so ago for allegedly being a FARC member after a doctored photo was circulated.”Parra gave a copy of the interview with Capt. Solórzano, which was filmed in October, to opposition senator Piedad Córdoba shortly before it was made public. She travelled to Caracas to show it to President Chávez. But then, three days before that, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe announced that the mediation by Chávez and Córdoba was being terminated.The Colombian authorities immediately accused Parra of trying to exploit the interview, and the interest and emotion it was bound to raise, to make Chávez look good, despite the fact that – according to them – it was filmed before Uribe asked Chávez to act as mediator. Parra is “implicated in the crime of kidnapping since it is not his job to record evidence of hostages being still alive in FARC camps,” Gen. Naranjo said.Naranjo has asked Parra to explain the nature of his relations with the FARC guerrillas and has accused him of pressuring the Solórzano family to say the video had been filmed just a week earlier. President Uribe repeated these accusations in a press release.Parra told Reporters Without Borders he gave the Solórzano family a copy of the interview from his documentary several weeks ago although the editing of the documentary was only completed on 23 November. The family told the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal that no journalist had forced them to say that the evidence that Solórzano was still alive had been obtained thanks to Chávez’s mediation.The Department for Security Administration (DAS), Colombia’s leading domestic intelligence agency, has offered to protect Parra and has got in contact with Telesur for this purpose. Camilo Romero, the head of the Telesur bureau in Colombia, said he held the Colombian government responsible for the safety of all of the station’s staff in Colombia. ColombiaAmericas October 21, 2020 Find out more 2011-2020: A study of journalist murders in Latin America confirms the importance of strengthening protection policies November 27, 2007 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Authorities accuse Telesur reporter over interview with FARC hostage to go furthercenter_img Reports RSF_en Organisation Help by sharing this information News April 27, 2021 Find out more News RSF, IFEX-ALC and Media Defence, support FLIP and journalist Diana Díaz against state harassment in Colombia RSF begins research into mechanisms for protecting journalists in Latin Americalast_img read more

Man seriously injured after hammer attack in Letterkenny

first_img Facebook A man has sustained serious head injuries after being attacked with a hammer in the Pearse Road area of Letterkenny at the weekend. The incident happened in the early hours of Sunday morning last between Westside and Riverside apartments.The victim is believed to have been attacked by two other men.Garda Claire Rafferty is appealing for witnesses for anyone with information to come forward:Audio Playerhttp://www.highlandradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/crimeghjghjghjghjslot2-2.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. Loganair’s new Derry – Liverpool air service takes off from CODA Man seriously injured after hammer attack in Letterkenny Twitter Community Enhancement Programme open for applications Google+ Pinterest Twitter By News Highland – April 16, 2019 Nine til Noon Show – Listen back to Monday’s Programme WhatsAppcenter_img Pinterest Google+ Facebook RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR WhatsApp Arranmore progress and potential flagged as population grows AudioHomepage BannerNews Previous articleWindows smashed after youth gang target local housing estatesNext articleIslands set to vote on the same day as the rest of the country News Highland Important message for people attending LUH’s INR clinic Publicans in Republic watching closely as North reopens furtherlast_img read more

In moving speech, kidnap survivor Elizabeth Smart comforts Jayme Closs’ community

first_imgKSTP(BARRON, Wis.) — Even within the members of her own Wisconsin community — which searched relentlessly for Jayme Closs for 88 days until the 13-year-old managed to escape her abductor – few if any truly understand the terrifying dimensions of the young teen’s captivity.But Elizabeth Smart does. In a raw, remarkable speech she made to the residents of Barron, Wisconsin on Friday night, the now 31-year-old kidnapping survivor opened her heart to share her story of determination in the face of unspeakable abuse and surviving a seemingly hopeless ordeal at such a young age.“When I was kidnapped, it just brought a whole new meaning to terror, a whole new meaning to what nightmares are made of,” she said. “I was taken away from my family…where my captor told me that I was now going to be his wife, that I was now going to be their slave.”“That I had to do everything that they told me to do. They told me that my name was no longer Elizabeth, that I could no longer speak about my family, and that if I ever did anything that they did not want me to do, they’d kill me and if they didn’t kill me, they’d…kill my family.”“That was terrifying,” she added. “That was enough to keep me silent because I could never allow anything to happen to my family.” Smart was abducted at knife point in 2002 from her Salt Lake City, Utah home and held for nine months before her captors were spotted by two witnesses who recognized the pair from an episode of the television series “America’s Most Wanted.”She described the searing psychological trauma of realizing that she may never go home again.She spoke frankly about how she had been raped “within moments” of entering the campsite where her captors lived, and said that after thinking about how drastically her life had changed “in just a matter of hours” she realized that her captors didn’t plan on letting her go.“This man planned on keeping me,” she said. “Days? Weeks? Months? Years? What if it was so long that I forgot my name? What if it was so long that I forgot who I truly was? That thought terrified me. I never wanted to forgot who I was…where I came from…my family.”She said that she closely followed the search for Closs and was moved by the community’s unyielding determination to bring Closs home safe.“I have been so inspired the last few days…and I find it inspiring to see so many of you here tonight in support of Jayme and in moving forward and in reclaiming all of your lives because this has touched so many people,” Smart said.Smart’s visit to Barron followed just over two months after Closs escaped her captor and fled to safety earlier this year.Some of Closs’ relatives were expected to attend Friday night’s event at the high school gym in Barron, the town’s county sheriff, Chris Fitzgerald, told ABC News Friday morning.Smart’s introductory remarks were open to the public, but the press was asked to leave after about five minutes to give Smart the chance to speak privately with community members who are still recovering from the ordeal.She was expected to share more of her own story and discuss ways the Barron community can move forward, including how to talk to children about such traumatic events and what neighbors should say to Closs and her family, the sheriff said.“We’re very honored to have her here,” Fitzgerald said.The rural community of Barron found itself at the center of a kidnapping saga when Jake Patterson, 21, allegedly gunned down Closs’ parents then abducted the 13-year-old from her home on Oct. 15.Patterson told investigators that, after the killings, he fled with the girl to his house in Gordon, Wisconsin. He allegedly created a space for Closs under his bed, and when he’d leave the house, he’d put barbells and free weights around the bed so she couldn’t escape, according to a criminal complaint.On Jan. 10, when Patterson left the house, Closs fled, according to court documents.Patterson was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, kidnapping and armed burglary. He is scheduled to be arraigned on March 27.Following her abduction, Smart went on to become a national child safety advocate and is a married mother of three children.As for her captors, Barzee was released from prison in 2018 while Mitchell is serving a life sentence.After Closs’ miraculous escape, Smart wrote, “I hope we may all continue to support and embrace Jayme as she reclaims her life and comes to terms with the reality of her situation. What a brave, strong, and powerful survivor!!!!”“No matter what may unfold in her story let’s all try to remember that this young woman has SURVIVED and whatever other details may surface the most important will still remain that she is alive,” she wrote. “May god bless you Jayme Closs and may we all continue to search for every missing child.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Dead dolphin found in Florida was speared in the head: NOAA

first_imgNOAA via Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission(NEW YORK) — A dead bottlenose dolphin recently found off the Florida coast appears to have been speared in the head, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.A close examination of the animal, recovered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at the end of May, showed that it had been impaled near its right eye, “extending almost 6 inches toward the top and back of the head,” according to NOAA. There’s evidence of hemorrhaging, indicating the animal was stabbed while alive.The dolphin was found along Upper Captiva Island in Lee County, approximately 20 miles west of Fort Myers, on Florida’s Gulf Coast.An adult male, the dolphin was known to area biologists and was last observed swimming near fishing boats, said NOAA, which is seeking information from anyone who may have details related to the incident.Agencies including NOAA are offering as much as $38,000 in rewards for information leading to the successful identification or prosecution of persons responsible.Since 2002, more than two dozen dolphins have been attacked with guns or arrows or otherwise impaled in the Gulf of Mexico, according to NOAA.Harassing, harming, killing or even feeding dolphins could result in a fine of up to $100,000 and a year in jail, per violation, under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

HENNESSY, MARGARET M.

first_imgA mass of Christian burial was celebrated March 22 at St. John the Baptist Church for Margaret M. Hennessy, 92. She passed away on March 20. Margaret was born in Brooklyn, but resided most of her life in Jersey City. She was a homemaker and very active member of the church communities in Jersey City. Margaret was the treasurer of St. Anne’s CYO, a volunteer and avid bingo enthusiast at St. Anne’s, as well as a former Den Mother and member of The Mother’s Guild. More recently, she was a Eucharistic Minister and a Lector at St. John the Baptist Church. Margaret is predeceased by her husband, Michael Hennessy and her parents, Catherine and Patrick Murphy. She is survived by her children, Michael Hennessy and his wife Barbara, Dennis Hennessy and his wife Jeanmarie and Patrick Hennessy and his wife Patricia; and grandchildren, Laura Ann, Ryan, Julianna, and Patrick.Services arranged by the McLaughlin Funeral Home, Jersey City.last_img read more

Middle class woe

first_imgThe American middle class has been battered by the loss of well-paying jobs for the 70 percent of the workforce without a college degree and failed by would-be protectors in government and private institutions, said panelists at the 35th Anniversary Forum of the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement on Friday.Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, whose forthcoming book “A Nation of Wusses” criticizes politicians of both parties for failing to act in the country’s best interest, pointed to elected officials and corporate leaders who can’t see beyond the next election or quarterly earnings report.“Nobody is looking at what happens 15 or 20 years down the road,” he said.  And regardless of political persuasion everyone has a stake in the future: “We can’t have a good economy if middle class income continues to go down.”Frank Levy, an MIT urban studies and economics professor, outlined how the middle class has suffered declines since the 1970s as a result of trends ranging from globalization to rising tuition costs.“Roughly speaking, the society, including the government and individuals, has made a lot of promises about payments to make in future that we can no longer make,” he said.The middle class has been hurt by the failure of policymakers to plan and account for a sharp rise in health care costs and the widespread job losses tied to the housing collapse.The question, Levy said, is: “How are we going to distribute the losses? How much will be absorbed by lower incomes and how much will be absorbed in the present versus the future?”New York Times columnist Joe Nocera assigned another aspect of diminished incomes to the zeal corporate leaders since the 1980s have had for downsizing to boost profits, and the shift from pensions to mutual funds for retirees.  Nocera disavowed the conclusion of his 1995 book, “A Piece of the Action,” which painted a rosy picture of transition from a “country full of people who had money in the bank to a country of people who invested in the stock market.”But as wages flattened with the decline of U.S. manufacturing, he said,  “This shift has turned out to be terrible for the people who have to save for their own retirement.”It transferred risk from the institution to the individual, putting more pressure on the middle class, said Nocera, whose latest book, “All the Devils Are Here,” is about the hidden history of the financial crisis.The best way to help middle-income residents in the United States would be to address the housing crisis, Nocera said. “We have no housing policy. Most people’s equity is tied up in their house and the country has not decided what to do with Fannie and Freddie.”“Is it all the Republicans’ fault?” asked moderator Paul Solman, PBS business and economics correspondent and Harvard M.B.A. ’79, in introducing Rendell, a leading Democrat.“Yes,” Rendell said, to widespread laughter at the nearly full First Parish church in Cambridge.Rendell said the best thing that could happen to corporate America would be to get rid of quarterly earnings reports that put shareholders’ returns ahead of visionary and wise business management.There was agreement among the panelists that U.S. corporations should pay more taxes.Levy noted that the United States is in the bottom third of corporate taxes paid in the world.Nocera said that tax reform would free up a lot of corporate money for better purposes.“You would generate more revenue and make the corporations more efficient because GE wouldn’t have a 1,000-person tax office to find loopholes,” Nocera said. “But the reason it will never happen is this is how Congress lives and dies. They generate their own revenues by saving those loopholes or creating new ones.”The panelists agreed that skyrocketing tuition is hitting the middle class hardest.“If you’re poor, you can get grants and the rich pay full price,” said Nocera, using the example of the California public college system that now charges in-state students $30,000. “If you’re middle class you can’t afford it.“The state of California has taken this jewel and said we’re not going to cut back on our prison system but we’re going to cut back on our university system and balancing its budget on the backs of the middle class.”Nocera concluded, however, “The middle class is under siege but it’s not quite as hopeless as people like me portray it.”last_img read more

Busting the budget

first_imgSequestration is upon us, in the form of blunt, across-the-board spending cuts to government agencies that will limit many programs and services unless President Barack Obama and Congress reach a budget deal to keep them running. Gazette staff writer Colleen Walsh spoke with Harvard analysts in a question-and-answer format about how sequestration is likely to play out politically and fiscally, including for research universities that rely on government funding. Here are their thoughts.William W. Chin is the executive dean for research at Harvard Medical School and Bertarelli Professor of Translational Medical Science.GAZETTE: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget will undergo substantial cuts if the sequester goes through. What will that mean for America’s research universities?CHIN: There are just a lot of things we still don’t understand. We don’t understand what causes disease, and how one disease shows up in different manifestations. A lot of the funding [we receive] is important for basic research. It’s not the only thing. Obviously, there’s also translational and clinical research that the NIH and NSF [National Science Foundation] funds. But, really, it’s basic research that provides the foundation for our knowledge that allows us to answer the important questions.The sequester really has a number of effects. It would likely force some decreases in funding of current grants, but it also would mean that a percentage, and maybe a good percentage, of potential new grants would not be funded. So if you think about the importance of basic research, then a lot of these efforts would be curtailed somewhat, if not totally stopped. We think it’s important to allow basic research and the sciences to continue to explore what I call “the fringes of science,” the fringes being very important areas because those are the areas that lead to new ideas and innovation. [In addition,] I find that many of our scientists are spending a lot more time writing grants. Nowadays it doesn’t take an A to get you a grant, you need an A-plus.There is also the impact the sequester would have on the research infrastructure. The funding is important to keep a base of activities that allow these scientists, when they have new ideas, to be able to pursue them. And that is also a very important part of NIH funding that is probably not as well recognized. The combination of this is that the flow of new medicines that potentially come out from this basic knowledge, will diminish.GAZETTE: When will the cuts be felt?CHIN: Some people think that if funding decreases a little bit, “What difference will this make?” This may be the same thing with the effect of sequester on things like public services … I think the effect of sequester is probably going to be relatively slow, but it will have a cumulative effect that will impact all of us. In research, it’s the same idea. It might have a small effect within the next days, weeks, and months, but will have a grave effect with years of sequester, and will have a great effect on a generation of research. I think that if it continues like this, we jeopardize this research, which allows us to innovate, allows us to be a leader in the world in these areas.GAZETTE: How do you foresee these cuts potentially affecting people thinking about becoming scientists and researchers?CHIN: I think the sequester would have important and maybe even dire consequences for future scientists because it’s unclear where the cuts will come. But certainly from a psychological perspective, it means that choosing a career in science might mean that you’ve chosen a much harder path now. And the future of understanding these diseases and finding potential cures is in these young people. I worry about that part of it — the people, the human capital part.GAZETTE: What will these cuts mean to project collaborations? Will there be competition between organizations for funding going forward?CHIN: I don’t know how this is going to work out. You could say, on one hand, if there are fewer dollars for individuals, perhaps that might actually encourage more collaboration, so that might be a good thing. However, I would emphasize that a lot of our greatest ideas come from allowing diverse individuals doing this basic research to follow their nose, so to speak. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.” So if you think of the mystery of what causes disease as a secret, you have to allow the curiosity to roam free. This is what science is ultimately all about. ● ● ●Daniel Carpenter is Allie S. Freed Professor of Government and director of the Center for American Political Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.GAZETTE: It seems that the sequester has devolved into a game of political chicken. Do you think there will be a clear winner and loser?CARPENTER: There are going to be so many intervening events between now and November 2014 that it’s difficult to believe that the resolution of this particular sequester fight is going to affect those [election] midterms any more than the fights already have. The immediate loser in the polls is probably the Republican Party on net. The polls seem to show that Obama has backing on a lot of these issues. And in the short term, at least, the public at present seems ready to blame the Republicans more than the Democrats for the sequester. But I think a lot of Republicans are calculating that they are not elected or unelected on the basis of polls and that they’ve got more than enough time to recover. They also see it as a chance to cut spending, and some Republicans are calculating that, to the extent this dampens growth or the state of the economy over the next year, it could actually help them a year from now.GAZETTE: Do you think the pundits underestimate the degree to which the electorate is getting fed up with both parties?CARPENTER: You have got a lot of people who are very turned off by politics in Washington right now, and they perceive a lot of what they would consider dysfunction. And to the extent that both sides are blamed, then neither side really loses because we’ve got largely a two-party system. Despite all the talk about a third party arising, I don’t see anything like that in the wings. There are a number of structural conditions that nearly guarantee we are going to have a two-party system for the foreseeable future. Again, the polls right now suggest the public is fed up with both parties, but they seem to suggest they are fed up more with Republicans than with Democrats.GAZETTE: How does or will this political stalemate affect the continuing resolution [to provide other funding] that is set to expire at the end of March?CARPENTER: It’s tough to say. I think we are going to see the sequester and spending issues being separated from the debt limit a little bit more. Obama kind of called the Republicans’ bluff on the debt limit in January and said, “OK, we just need an across-the-board raise.” And then they did, they voted an extension of the debt limit without any conditions attached. That kind of sets a precedent, not a binding one, but my sense is it will probably be observed in the future, or at least in the months and years to come.A critical difference here is the differing time scale of the sequester versus a debt limit breach. A lot of these cuts are going to come in a very slow, kind of rolling manner … because a lot of federal spending isn’t cut overnight. Just as federal spending and outlays filter through a bunch of administrative processes, so too do the budget cuts. The outlays are planned to be undertaken over time, and therefore the cuts will be felt over time. If the debt limit is breached, on the other hand, that is felt immediately.One could see the kind of economic carnage that we saw in September 2008 and the months afterwards, perhaps much worse. At some level, that is the kind of thing the Republicans could be more blamed for, if the House didn’t vote to increase the debt limit, because it’s such a quick and vivid example or event that is clearly tied to the vote. I think the Republicans may be gambling that the slow pace of many of these cuts is not something that they will necessarily be blamed for.GAZETTE: Are there parallels to be drawn between the President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich standoff and the government shutdown in the ’90s?CARPENTER: Back then, Republicans were rushing headlong into it and didn’t have a lot of experience on their side. The conventional wisdom is it kind of backfired on them and made Clinton look better. I think this is somewhat of a different setup. I think the Republicans have wised up somewhat. The Republicans then were kind of new in office after four decades in the wilderness that comes with being the House minority party, and the American people were just learning about Newt Gingrich and all the things he stood for. The current Republican majority has been around for three or four years, and so it’s not clear that there is necessarily going to be as much damage. They are smarter and are going to play their cards more wisely than Gingrich did at the time.GAZETTE: Do you think that President Obama is emboldened by his reelection, and more willing to take on the Republicans?CARPENTER: I think it’s clear that he’s emboldened, and I think he is probably going to stay that way. I think he believes that the public has given him, if not a mandate, at least legitimization to continue his policies. And I think he is going to continue to try to put pressure on them. The other thing to keep in mind about the Republicans is that they are kind of a party in disarray right now. It’s not clear that they have a central leader, which at some level actually hurts the ability of Obama to bargain with them, because there is not one unified spokesperson. There are congressional leaders like John Boehner and [senators like] Mitch McConnell, critical legislators, but it’s very difficult for them to round up votes among their own caucus, and the party is going through a lot of infighting right now, as often happens in the wake of an election defeat. ● ● ●Robert Kaplan is the Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration
and senior associate dean for external relations at Harvard Business School.GAZETTE: What will happen with the economy moving forward?KAPLAN: The best estimates I have heard from economists is that the sequester will likely take as much as a half point from GNP growth.Despite the fact that this is not the most intelligent way to cut spending, we should recognize that there does need to be some combination of spending cuts, entitlement reform, and additional revenue measures. Any of the choices for cutting the deficit will have some negative impact on GNP growth.Lastly remember that, even with this sequester, we will still spend more this year than we did last year. Spending is still growing. The challenge is to take action that will slow the rate of government debt growth as a percentage of GNP. The financial markets would react positively to actions that will help improve the fiscal situation in the U.S. I believe this is one reason why markets are not reacting negatively to sequester — they know that some type of deficit reduction is necessary. They would rather it not be done this way, but I think they want to see some type of deficit reduction.GAZETTE: Will we be able to avoid this in the future?KAPLAN: Deleveraging is difficult, ugly, and forces politicians to make choices that they are not accustomed to making. Tax increases are unpopular, entitlement reform is unpopular, spending cuts are unpopular, and yet to reduce the deficit and the rate of debt increase, politicians have to choose from these unpopular options. So as awful as this feels, as embarrassing as this feels, it’s possible that this is what deleveraging and deficit reduction are going to look like.GAZETTE: Will a potential drop in the GNP hurt the economy?KAPLAN: With GNP growth this sluggish, you hate to see any sudden fiscal moves that will slow it further. However, the Federal Reserve is pursuing an aggressively “easy” monetary policy that should somewhat ease the impact of tightening fiscal policy. I think the business community and public are also mentally prepared for deficit reduction. One reason people in the business community and the public are not quite as apoplectic as you might think is because they know we have got to make moves to reduce the deficit. It either has to be spending cuts, entitlement reform, or increasing taxes; it has to be one or a combination of those three.GAZETTE: Are there positive lessons to take from this?KAPLAN: All these events are occurring in the context of a general consensus that we need to reduce our deficit — before it creates a significant crisis. I think the public wants the government to make choices, understanding that any choice they make will be unpopular. The good news from this is at least we are starting to confront this situation — while not pretty to watch, I think the public is starting to get used to the idea that deficit reduction has to happen. ● ● ●Jeffrey A. Frankel is James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth at Harvard Kennedy School. He directs the International Finance and Macroeconomics Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research.GAZETTE: Will the sequester make it harder to reduce the deficit and hurt economic growth?FRANKEL: It will certainly hurt economic growth. Nevertheless, cutting spending, even in such a crazy way, will reduce the deficit in an immediate sense. But it won’t help with the longer fiscal problem. The only sensible solution involves legislation locking in modifications to entitlements — Social Security and Medicare — to bend down their rate of cost increase over the next 40 years, coupled with some smaller measures to increase tax revenues, such as curtailing income tax loopholes and perhaps adding something like a consumption tax or carbon tax. This requires the Republicans giving way on taxes and the Democrats giving way on entitlements. The sequester doesn’t help in this process in itself. But if the political backlash from the public is strong enough, it might help. The political analysts tell us that the public will mostly blame the Republicans for effects of the sequester. The way this might work, if we are lucky, is that the Republicans respond by proposing something specific on entitlements together with some implied willingness to consider tax revenue, Obama then takes them up on their offer, and they work out a deal.GAZETTE: Could the sequester lead us into a recession?FRANKEL: If the sequester had hit at the same time as an expiration of all tax cuts, as almost happened Jan. 1, that would almost certainly have sent the U.S. economy into a new recession. But the January 1 resolution included a renewal of most of the Bush tax cuts; only a few tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy were allowed to expire. If the sequester is never reversed, it will slow the economy down; but in itself, that probably would not be enough to cause a recession. If other adverse developments come along, such as a government shutdown March 27, or a return of the euro crisis, it could push us over the edge.GAZETTE: Does this impact our standing on the global economic stage?FRANKEL: Yes. The rest of the world has continued to have great faith in U.S. treasury securities, surprising as that may be. So far the U.S. Treasury bill market is still the global safe haven and the dollar is still the favored reserve currency. But that could change at some point. Already over the last 10 years we have lost a lot of moral high ground in the sense of setting an example for the rest of the world. Other countries wanted to be like us, on so many different dimensions, and we have thrown that away. With respect to fiscal policy, our debt got downgraded from AAA for the first time in our history, as a result of the showdown over the debt ceiling in mid-2011. Our political deadlock over all aspects of fiscal policy is a continuation of that trend. Everyone sees that we don’t have our act together.last_img read more

For Faust, new year brings fresh challenges

first_imgAs Harvard University enters another academic year, President Drew Faust sat down with the Gazette to discuss her priorities for the months ahead. The wide-ranging conversation touched on topics including The Harvard Campaign, the University’s stance on single-gender social organizations, the vision for the Allston campus, the importance of the humanities in a liberal arts education, and the newest member of Faust’s family — an adopted shelter puppy named Alice.GAZETTE: Could you outline what you see as Harvard’s priorities for the year ahead?FAUST: There is a lot going on at Harvard, including, of course, the continuation of The Harvard Campaign. We still have important parts of the campaign that we want to address and goals we want to fulfill. Some of those are individual School goals, while others are thematic areas that we want to make sure we attend to. Financial aid is one of those, as is House renewal in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.House renewal is one of the key goals of The Harvard Campaign. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerI’m very hopeful that we’ll be able to raise significant dollars for science funding in the next year and three-quarters that are in place before the end of the campaign. There’s the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences building in Allston, which we need to raise money to support, and that’s a very important part of what we want to do. I have some goals in the arts, including raising money to endow the new Theater, Dance & Media concentration. So there are a variety of specific projects that we hope to fund and that will be an important part of this year.“I’m very focused on the issues that students have raised in recent years so eloquently about inclusion and belonging.”I spoke a moment ago about Allston. That is another priority for the year ahead — making progress on the Science and Engineering Complex and continuing to enhance the intersections and relationships between Harvard Business School [HBS] and the Harvard Paulson School. They had a wonderful joint faculty symposium that helped to demonstrate the research uniting the intellectual strengths of both Schools, so I think we’re going to see more of that in the years to come.The kinds of partnerships that we hope to be able to fashion with organizations outside of Harvard that will locate themselves in the enterprise research zone will also spark our imaginations and give us different perspectives on the intellectual work we do and translate those efforts into a world that will give them a place in business and in communities and in everyday life. I also hope to have a vibrant presence of the arts there, which I think will intersect nicely with the plans we’ve envisioned. So, that all excites me.Other goals for the University as a whole: I’m very focused on the issues that students have raised in recent years so eloquently about inclusion and belonging. That will be something that the deans in their own Schools will be working hard on this year. But I too want to work on it on a University-wide basis and really address some of the concerns that we all have seen articulated.The life sciences will be an important area of focus. We have two new deans in Longwood, Michelle Williams at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health and George Daley at the Medical School, who will bring new energy to these efforts. And that’ll relate very closely to how we can both integrate life sciences better across the University and also strengthen life sciences in each of the three Schools in which they occur. So those are all important goals for the year.GAZETTE: These are challenging times for American colleges and universities across the country, with many anticipating declines in their endowment returns. How would Harvard respond to a slide in the endowment?FAUST: We have a formula on which we base the amount paid out of the endowment each year. So we calculate that formula with the variable of what the endowment performance in the preceding year has been. And then, based on that, we determine distribution. If we distribute either less or the same or just a bit more than what has been distributed, then that puts a lot of pressure on Schools and other entities in the central administration to figure out how to contain costs and how to make choices about what we will spend money on and what we won’t.President Faust has several goals when it comes to the arts, including raising money to endow the new Theater, Dance & Media concentration. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerIf endowment spending is to be constrained as a result of our endowment returns, that’s something everyone is going to have to consider, and make decisions that prioritize what’s most important to advance the academic mission of the institution. Those are conversations that will occur as we look at how those endowment returns come in, depending on what they turn out to be.At a time when endowment returns look like they will be constrained maybe for some time to come, people across higher education are very concerned — not just at Harvard but more generally — about how we respond. This will be especially worthy of consideration in light of our involvement in what has been a very successful capital campaign.“At a time when endowment returns look like they will be constrained maybe for some time to come, people across higher education are very concerned — not just at Harvard but more generally — about how we respond.”We have the benefit of significant contributions for new activities and for spend-down money in some cases. In other cases, investments in the endowment raised as a result of the campaign will enable us to do some new things and support projects or efforts that the returns on our existing endowment portfolio might not be able to finance. The campaign is not a substitute for good endowment performance. But it can, in some ways, help us counter some of the constraints that might otherwise limit our ability to dream new dreams and introduce new initiatives.GAZETTE: Stephen Blyth, the head of Harvard Management Company [HMC] that manages the endowment, recently stepped down, and Harvard’s endowment performance has trailed that of its peers in recent years. Do you have any concerns about the ongoing stewardship of the endowment?FAUST: We have a very strong interim team in place, and I’m grateful for the leadership they have shown at a time of transition. There is a search underway, and there is a really excellent group of colleagues from the board of the Harvard Management Company with tremendous expertise, who are going to be advising on the search. We have a number of outstanding potential candidates, so I’m very optimistic that we’ll be able to appoint a new leader who will bring excellent judgment and experience to HMC.GAZETTE: Any sense of the timing for that?FAUST: We’d like to get the search done promptly. But I never put timelines on searches because you never can tell what’s going to happen. You may zero in on a candidate, think you’re all done, and then the candidate says, “Oh, I changed my mind,” or “I want to keep talking to you about this.” So searches, I would say, are as long as a piece of string.GAZETTE: Last year Harvard announced a decision about the future of final clubs, sororities, and fraternities at the University. Could you briefly recap that?FAUST: We have thought long and hard about this. And the provision that we have decided upon is one that says if you choose to be a member of a final club, you have the perfect right to do that. It is a choice you may make. But it also comes with certain outcomes, because we believe that these clubs are a negative force within the social environment of Harvard, and that, if you choose to be a member of one, you may not hold a leadership position in the College — which means of athletic teams or of certain significant organizations in the College. And you will not be recommended for prestigious fellowships by the dean of the College. That was the policy that was set forth.Intermediate Microeconomics: Advanced Economics is taught by Edward Glaeser during Shopping Period in Jefferson Hall at Harvard University. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerThere will be a group working with Dean [Rakesh] Khurana this year to figure out exactly how to implement the new policy — which groups are involved, how we determine those groups — and to work out the important details to make this a reality.The real logic of this has been propelled by our commitment to Harvard as an inclusive community, in which the influence of exclusive organizations over student life is at odds with the fundamental values that we embrace as essential to the College experience. Final clubs began as all-male organizations. And although they were asked to go coed at a time when women from Radcliffe were really being fully integrated into the Harvard community, they declined to do so, and at that point they were forced by the dean to become independent organizations.What happened was not that they withered away, which was I think what people anticipated, but rather — especially with the raise in the drinking age — became a real focus for social life in the College and have in many ways strengthened their influence among undergraduates in ways that we feel are at odds with what we would like to be, a community in which everyone can fully participate in the opportunities offered.“Having conversations in this community about where we’ve come from and where we want to go will be really important.”GAZETTE: How do you respond to the critics who complain that this decision limits a student’s ability to freely associate?FAUST: Students have a perfect right to belong to these clubs. We are not telling them they can’t do that. But we’re saying that there are certain privileges of representing Harvard that will be curtailed by those who choose to belong to clubs whose values are at odds with Harvard. The formally recognized teams or social organizations that are the subject of this policy are ones that we fund with Harvard resources and are intended to be inclusive of all members of our community. There’s no right to leadership. Leadership is earned. Similarly, there’s no right to a recommendation from a dean for a fellowship. That too is earned.This policy goes into effect with the class that enters next fall, so students who come to Harvard for that class and future classes that are subject to these rules will be able to choose whether or not they want to go to Harvard with this regulation in place.GAZETTE: There’s been some backlash from members of women’s clubs who feel that their clubs could vanish along with the “support systems, safe spaces, and alumnae networks” that the clubs enable. How do you respond to those concerns?FAUST: We need to be sure that we provide women with networking opportunities, with the support they need. We need to figure out the ways to do this. The women’s clubs have grown up because we, as a community, have not done that adequately. And so I don’t think that being this kind of organization — one that was created because something was withheld from you — is the best way to address these women’s needs.GAZETTE: Making Harvard students feel included and part of the community is an ongoing effort at Harvard and at similar college campuses across the country. Can you share with us the status of the efforts on that front?FAUST: Last academic year, in response to a report from the College Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion, I initiated the process of setting up a University-wide task force on inclusion and belonging. That group has grown out of conversations across the campus and among the dean’s leadership group, with students, and others to address some of the ways in which the University writ broadly — all of us — can improve issues related to inclusion and belonging. We will announce more details in the coming weeks but it will address a wide range of diversities that we want to support and enable, and will draw membership from every element of the community, from students, staff, and faculty. The views of this group will be extremely important in helping us understand how we leverage a lot of the work that’s gone on in individual Schools on these issues with a University-wide umbrella that can really reinforce and go beyond their efforts.I also established a committee to help me think beyond a plaque installed this spring on Wadsworth House in memory of four enslaved persons who worked there, about what we should do next in terms of acknowledging and memorializing Harvard’s history with slavery. We are going to have a conference in the spring at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study sponsored by the President’s Office that I think will be quite a remarkable event. There are terrific people coming to talk about slavery and universities. There’ll be some emphasis on Harvard, but we’ll also look more broadly.Having conversations in this community about where we’ve come from and where we want to go will be really important. I’ve spoken about this at freshman convocation and morning prayers. I’m also eager to work with the Schools on diversifying the faculty, helping deans and faculty members identify, recruit, and continue to enhance the numbers of underrepresented groups on our faculty, so that’s another important part of this as well.A view of the Science Center with solar panels on the roof. “We want to be a living laboratory in how we operate as an organization that uses energy,” Faust points out. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerGAZETTE: You mentioned sustainability. I wanted to touch on climate change. De-carbonizing the energy systems in our communities in response to climate change still poses an enormous challenge. How is Harvard positioning itself to contribute sustainable solutions on the local, regional, and global stage?FAUST: Well, I see this as happening in a couple of different ways. One is we want to be a living laboratory in how we operate as an organization that uses energy. We’re coming now to the end of the first set of commitments. It was a short-term commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2016. And here we are in 2016. So by the end of this calendar year, at the very beginning of next year, we’ll be announcing how we’ve done. But we’ll also be formulating new goals to figure out how we go beyond what we’ve accomplished already and to figure out what the next stage of our commitment to our own practice should be. That’s one area in which we’ve been very innovative and inventive in the ways that we’ve addressed energy use within our own community.Secondly, we have an enormous presence of teaching and research in this area, the teaching part of it being creating the leaders of tomorrow who will carry forward in the war against climate change in a variety of fields, ranging from the Law School, where our faculty are working on models of legal intervention in this area, where there’s a student clinic that engages not just law students but students from public health and other parts of the University to show how they can all work together; at HBS, where faculty are exploring intersections with industry; at the Chan School of Public Health, where they’ve done so much on air pollution and health, including new evidence just this past year about the impact of climate on things like heart disease.Faculty at the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are looking for solutions to storing renewable energy. A team has developed batteries that can store sun energy much longer, which is a critical breakthrough to make the movement from fossil-fuel dependence to other kinds of energy. At the Graduate School of Design, with the Green Buildings and Cities initiative, these are such important areas, and are only a few in which faculty are doing research. I think more and more people are alarmed about climate change, and so more and more faculty are involving themselves in these very important endeavors.Max Miao ’19 works during the iGEM BioDesign Bootcamp, which helps participants build a solid foundation in essential life-science research techniques through an intensive laboratory component and theoretical introduction inside the Northwest lab. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerWe funded something last year that I think is a model that we hope to replicate in other parts of the world, the Harvard Global Institute, which is an effort at the center of the University to address problems and intellectual issues that transcend both regions and fields. And the first initiative, funded by a generous donor from China, is a program led by someone in economics, Dale Jorgenson, and someone in the Engineering School, Mike McElroy, to collaborate with faculty and others in China on issues of climate in China. I’m hoping that we’ll get a gift that will enable us to have a parallel initiative in other geographies and to cross-fertilize one from the other. We’re thinking about how we can use our intellectual presence to enhance the ability of people all over the globe to make progress on this very, very significant problem.“Who are we? Where are we going? Why should we go there? What is the purpose of life? How do I live a life of meaning and purpose? How do I understand other human beings? How are they like me and different from me?”GAZETTE: Earlier this summer you took part in a conversation at the Aspen Ideas Festival with the American writer and critic Leon Wieseltier about the humanities. You mentioned that often the outcome of the humanities is not an answer but a question. In your mind, what questions do the humanities raise, and how do they help teach us?FAUST: Who are we? Where are we going? Why should we go there? What is the purpose of life? How do I live a life of meaning and purpose? How do I understand other human beings? How are they like me and different from me? How do I understand different stages of life and the changes that make me different from a person I once was and will make me able to be different yet again? So I think they concern the essence of your own approach to being human but also an ability to look through the eyes of others at how they construe the world, so that you’re able to reach them, to touch them, to connect with them.GAZETTE: In that same conversation, you said one of the things you hear the most from professors is, “My students don’t have the sort of patience required for long, extensive reading.” How can the humanities at Harvard help teach students that type of patience?FAUST: Well, I recently spoke to the arriving class of graduate students at GSAS [the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences]. And I spoke to them about how, in a University where other students entering today know that they’re going to take two years to get an M.B.A. or four years to graduate from College or three years to get a law degree, they don’t know how long it’s going to take them to do a Ph.D. And so they need a kind of immersive attention, a kind of persistence and a willingness to follow questions wherever they lead, which I see as characteristic of that type of scholarship. And then I quoted from a wonderful, wonderful piece by Jennifer Roberts, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, about patience and how in one of her classes she has her students sit in front of a work of art for three hours. At first, they can’t imagine doing such a thing. And then they see how much more they understand and find in an artifact after that length of time. So, as she puts it, being given permission to spend time in that way is an important part of her class and of learning to see in new ways.The same, I would say, is true of reading: Not everything comes in 140 characters. And for many students, lengthy pieces of reading are alien, unwelcome. And yet, what is more delicious than falling into a book? And also the complexities that are possible to address in 140 pages or 140 books that you’re not going to get in 140 characters are an important part of learning, knowledge, understanding, of ambition. Also, to want to have that kind of depth is significant, too. There’s a general introductory course in humanities taught by some of our star faculty that endeavors to introduce students to this way of thinking and reading and give them a pathway out of a world that is always looking at how short can something be, how quickly can it be done, how fast can it be over with?“The very public nature of everything we do is a circumstance that I had to learn to live with.”GAZETTE: You are entering your 10th year as president. Is there anything that has surprised you about the job?FAUST: When I took the job I knew that the president of Harvard was somebody who was scrutinized and a very public figure, but I don’t think I knew what that meant exactly, in two ways. One, Harvard is the symbol of higher education. Often, it’s a headline that the media wants to put on an article. It’s the example that gets used if some issue of higher education is being discussed. It sometimes, not infrequently, is the target if someone wants to criticize higher education. So the very public nature of everything we do is a circumstance that I had to learn to live with.But, two, it also means that we have the opportunity to use that platform for good, that when we take a stand or take a leadership action, we can really have an impact on the broader higher education community and on the world. So the ability to move an agenda is one that is also granted by this visibility. When we introduced our financial aid program back in the fall of 2007, other universities followed suit, and we had a transformative impact on the cost of higher education for lower- and middle-income students. And that opportunity is one that comes along with all the scrutiny. I think I didn’t realize the full dimensions of either aspect of that, both the possibilities and the challenges of that visibility.GAZETTE: Can you talk a little bit about what’s it like to live at Elmwood, the historic house that was once the home of the poet James Russell Lowell?FAUST: One aspect of it is it’s a very human-scale house. A lot of presidential houses are like bank lobbies, or they have huge public spaces that don’t seem welcoming at all. I think every room in Elmwood is of a scale that is welcoming. You could have two people in that room and have it seem an appropriate use of the room. So that makes me feel very much at home in that house, and it’s very relaxing to not feel that you are in a bank lobby. It also has challenges when you are trying to entertain because you don’t have a bank lobby in which to fit everybody.I think it also has “good ghosts.” There aren’t doors banging or anything, but I sit there and think, “I am sitting in this room, and probably every important intellectual of 19th-century America was here. Henry James would come visit James Russell Lowell, who was the occupant of the house. I am sure Thoreau was there, I am sure Emerson was there, I am sure Longfellow was there.” I just hope that maybe a little of this will seep into my head when I am writing or thinking. It’s good company.Ambrose Bierce is a writer who just was wonderfully acerbic and ironic — he was wounded four times in the Civil War — but he once wrote something that he titled “Alone in Bad Company,” so [the reverse of] that is sort of like when you are alone at Elmwood. You are in good company because all of these extraordinary people have been in that house.Alice, President Faust’s 6-month-old puppy. Photo courtesy of President Drew FaustGAZETTE: How did you spend your summer, and how do you relax?FAUST: I think I relax by reading, by going to Cape Cod. I guess the big event of my summer was I got a new puppy.GAZETTE: What kind?FAUST: She came from a shelter, so I am not sure of her origins. When we got her she was 4 months old. She is now 6 months old. Her name is Alice. She’s delightful. Exuberant is the right word … she is some kind of hunter. She points. I think she might be some kind of herder because she also herds. You know how they get down and look, she does that. So I want to get a dog DNA test and try to figure out what she is. I spent a lot of time this summer working with her.GAZETTE: Did you have a top book on your reading list this summer? FAUST: I am reading a book called “Nothing Ever Dies” by Viet Thanh Nguyen. It’s a book about memory and Vietnam by the man who won the Pulitzer Prize in the spring for fiction for a book called “The Sympathizer.” This is a nonfiction book about history and memory. He was a Radcliffe Fellow a couple of years ago.I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about race and history, but Vietnam interests me a lot because I grew up as a college student with the Vietnam War, and I am planning to go to Vietnam as part of a Harvard trip this spring. So this book has kind of come at an intersection of a number of interests.GAZETTE: Did you ever read “Dispatches” [by Michael Herr]?FAUST: Oh, that is the best book. I think that is the best American book about the war.GAZETTE: Did you watch much of the Olympics? Did you have a favorite Olympic moment?FAUST: I watched some. Maybe Usain Bolt — he was amazing. Superhuman, isn’t he? He just looks like he is an entirely other embodiment of humanity from the people he runs against.Savelast_img read more

Profiting from consumer confusion?

first_img 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr To put it simply — good luck with that.Look around. Have you seen the dizzying array of choices available to consumers these days? Many restaurants offer all multiple-page menus and above-counter displays of meal choices that could confuse a supercomputer. There are ten different commercials on television for every kind of service imaginable on the rapidly growing number of cable channels. And don’t even get me going about online advertising, including emails and sponsored social media posts.Your credit union will never profit from consumer confusion. What will work? Simplification.People attach a great deal of emotion to their financial state of affairs. The last thing any of them want, rich or poor, great financial planners or monetary flops, is confusion over their money. It is your job as the credit union of choice to make interaction as simple as possible.How can you go about this? Consider a few of the following quick-read options. continue reading »last_img read more

Van Jones, breaking down on CNN, invokes George Floyd’s words in declaring Trump’s loss a ‘vindication.’

first_img“And it’s easier for a whole lot of people,” after Mr. Trump’s defeat, he said. “If you’re Muslim in this country, you don’t have to worry that the president doesn’t want you here. If you’re an immigrant, you don’t have to worry if the president is going to be happy to have babies snatched away.”- Advertisement – “You spend so much of your life energy just trying to hold it together,” added Mr. Jones, who is Black. “And this is a big deal for us just to be able get some peace and have a chance for a reset.”Mr. Jones said that Mr. Trump had made it acceptable to show “racism” overtly, and said he feared for his family’s safety under his presidency. – Advertisement – As thousands of people cheered, danced and honked their horns in New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta, Mr. Jones summed up the feelings of many Trump critics, overcome with relief that Mr. Trump had been vanquished.“This is vindication for a lot of people who really have suffered,” he said, as he began to sob. “It is a good day for this county. I am sorry for the people who lost, but for most, this is a good day.” Mr. Jones’s opinion was not universally shared, not even on CNN’s set.- Advertisement – Former Representative Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Republican, questioned calling the race in his home state until all provisional ballots were tallied, saying the race was “not over.” The election of Joseph R. Biden Jr. elicited powerful reactions across the nation but few are resonating as deeply as the emotional on-air response to President Trump’s defeat by the CNN contributor Van Jones — who invoked George Floyd’s dying words in expressing his sense of relief and vindication.“‘I can’t breathe’ — that wasn’t just George Floyd, that was a lot of people who felt they couldn’t breathe,” said Mr. Jones, a former Obama administration official, breaking down in tears moments after the network called the race for Mr. Biden.- Advertisement –last_img read more