Mason in the News

Posted: November 30, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage George Mason recently received.

Tuesday, Nov. 20, Forbes

FEC to Decide Rules on Campaign Ads

“Television and radio advertisements for next year’s presidential election are about to get a whole lot more interesting. On Tuesday, the Federal Election Commission could determine whether corporations and labor unions must disclose their funding efforts for certain political ads. It’s not certain, though, whether corporations will make use of the new rules to push a particular issue. Traditional deep-pocketed companies that weigh heavily in elections are businesses like AT&T and Goldman Sachs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But these are not groups that typically weigh in favor of one candidate or another, or a particular issue. ‘Regular business corporations oftentimes don’t see it within their interest to be involved in what looks like ‘on the edge’ corporate donations,’ says Allison Hayward, a law professor at George Mason University and a former FEC attorney. ‘They don’t want to pick that fight.’ Most likely, she says, they’ll stay within the well-defined guidelines for political giving rather than run issue ads in the last days before an election.”

Tuesday, Nov. 20, Washington Post

Give Thanks. It’s Good for You.

“The feelings of stress that Thanksgiving evokes sometimes overwhelm the seasonal beneficence. But research suggests that the actual process of giving thanks (whether it’s for getting to the meal on time, for getting along with Aunt Jane or for getting by without salmonella) may hold benefits for the giver. A study of gratitude among Vietnam War veterans by George Mason University psychologist Todd Kashdan revealed a correlation between being grateful and feelings of well-being. That study, published in Behaviour Research and Therapy in 2005, measured the effects of thankfulness on 77 veterans from Buffalo, N.Y., 42 of whom suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. When Kashdan correlated feelings of gratitude with well-being, he found that whenever one veteran’s well-being was different from that of another, as much as 65 percent of the factors that produced that difference were attributable to his experience of gratitude. And ‘the benefits derived from gratitude were the same, whether or not you had PTSD,’ Kashdan says.”

Thursday, Nov. 22, Washington Post

Senate Leaders to Mirror Va.’s Evolution

“When the state Senate convenes in January, its leaders will reflect a new Virginia. For the first time, an overwhelming number of powerful committees will be run by women and African Americans, all representing Northern Virginia and other growing urban areas in a legislature long dominated by white men representing rural interests. Democrats, who took a 21 to 19 majority in the Senate in the Nov. 6 election, choose chairmen primarily the traditional way: by looking at who has served on each committee the longest. That system does not favor representatives of rural areas, particularly in southwest Virginia. Some senators objected to the lack of rural representation, but seniority prevailed. ‘The shift in political environment is just catching up with the shift in population and jobs,’ said Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.”

Sunday, Nov. 25, New York Times

Connecticut’s Inequality Gap

“‘Poverty in the United States, in an absolute sense, has virtually disappeared,’ the economist Walter Williams of George Mason University wrote recently. Today, there’s nothing remotely resembling poverty of yesteryear. However, if poverty is defined in the relative sense — the lowest fifth of income-earners — ‘poverty’ always will be with us. It’s important to keep that in mind when considering a report from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Researchers said Connecticut had the third-largest increase in ‘income inequity’ in America between 1989 and 2004, which they attributed largely to the rich getting richer. As Mr. Williams says, poverty will be with us always, but that doesn’t condemn people to lives of destitution and despair. People move up and down the income ladder throughout their lives, so the best way to close the income-inequality gap is for government to shun policies that retard upward mobility of people in the lowest quintile.”

Tuesday, Nov. 27, CBS Evening News

Obama’s Racial Identity Still an Issue

Michael Fauntroy, assistant professor in the School of Public Policy, was featured in a news piece on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. The piece was produced by CBS News Correspondent Dean Reynolds. “Barack Obama has said that the big-city cab drivers who once refused to pick him up had no doubt about his blackness back then, nor should anyone else now. Campaigning, he addresses the race issue without hesitation, once even mimicking gang bangers to criticize their worth ethic. [Obama says he] self-identifies as African-American; that’s how [he’s] treated and that’s how [he’s] viewed, and [he’s] proud of it. ‘The issue of whether or not he is black enough is not the primary issue,’ Fauntroy said. ‘The issue is whether or not he has enough experience. He is seen as more palatable and more acceptable to larger numbers of white voters.’”

Thursday, Nov. 29, Inside Higher Ed

Ethics and Engagement with the Military

“A special panel of the American Anthropological Association — after spending more than a year studying the question of whether its ethical standards should bar ties to the military and intelligence agencies — issued a report Wednesday that recommended tighter scrutiny of such work, but explicitly affirmed the possibility that it could be conducted ethically in some cases. The report is likely to get tough scrutiny by some anthropologists who believe certain kinds of work for the government should most certainly be taboo. Hugh Gusterson, a professor of anthropology and sociology at George Mason University, said that there are types of anthropological work — studying cultures or peoples outside the United States for the purpose of reporting to the CIA or the military, or working for the military in Iraq — that he said were clearly unethical. He said that in these cases, there is no way that those being studied can provide truly free and informed consent, or that scholars can be sure no harm will come to subjects. Gusterson stressed that he wasn’t saying that all work for intelligence agencies was wrong. He said, for example, that he knows an anthropologist who works for the CIA, studying the CIA — and that doesn’t raise the same issues.”

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