Mason in the News

Posted: April 11, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national and international news coverage Mason recently received.

Friday, April 4, Fox News

Tiny Black Hole Found in Our Galaxy

“NASA scientists have identified the smallest, lightest black hole yet found. The new lightweight record-holder weighs in at about 3.8 times the mass of our sun and is only 15 miles (24 kilometers) in diameter. ‘This black hole is really pushing the limits,’ said study team leader Nikolai Shaposhnikov of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. ‘For many years astronomers have wanted to know the smallest possible size of a black hole, and this little guy is a big step toward answering that question.’ The low-mass black hole sits in a binary system in our galaxy known as XTE J1650-500 in the southern hemisphere constellation Ara. Shaposhnikov and his colleague Lev Titarchuk of George Mason University used this method to ‘weigh’ XTE J1650-500 and found a mass of 3.8 suns.”

Friday, April 4, Al Jazeera TV

Interview with Solon Simmons

Solon Simmons, assistant professor at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, analyzed the current state of U.S. race relations in the context of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and discussed the varying levels of prejudice and discrimination currently faced by African-American and Muslim-American communities.

Sunday, April 6, Arizona Republic

McCain Full of Convictions and Contradictions

“The preponderance of incidences of McCain either bucking Bush or defying Senate GOP leaders will make it hard for Democrats to recast him as a White House stooge at this late date, said James Pfiffner, a presidential scholar at George Mason University in Virginia and the author of the 2004 book ‘The Character Factor: How We Judge America’s Presidents.’ The continuing distrust and hostility toward McCain from high-profile conservative commentators such as Ann Coulter only reinforces McCain’s reputation as a party outsider, he said. ‘A lot more people are going to listen to (national radio host) Rush Limbaugh than are going to read the DNC “myth buster” stuff,’ Pfiffner said.”

Sunday, April 6, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Business Forum: Credit Industry Led to Bankruptcy Filings

“In 2005, the credit industry sought, and Congress delivered, a bankruptcy reform bill that is now the law of the land. Reform advocate Todd Zywicki, a law professor at George Mason University, said the bill was aimed at ‘rebalancing the system by targeting the worst forms of fraud and abuse in the system.’ No matter that consumers file bankruptcy because they are broke. In 2007, 36 percent of disposable income went to food, energy and medical care — the largest percentage since such statistics were first recorded in 1960.”

Sunday, April 6, Washington Post

The Big Brokers Blew It. They Should Bear the Cost.

“The extraordinary events of the past several weeks — with the Federal Reserve Bank and the Treasury pushing a near-bankrupt Bear Stearns into the opportunistic arms of J.P. Morgan Chase over the Ides of March — show that it is truer than ever that the ongoing lack of accountability on Wall Street is a serious problem for us all. Our tax dollars are being committed to pay for investment bankers’ mistakes. As Russell Roberts, a professor of economics at George Mason University, explained to National Public Radio: ‘What’s going on here is that we’re in uncharted territory, a world where the Fed and the Treasury are making up the rules as they go along, where accountability is being ignored and a world where the government bails out Bear Stearns and its creditors rather than letting those who have been reckless learn a lesson for the next time.’”

Monday, April 7, New York Times

The Vatican and Globalization: Tinkering with Sin

“The core benefits of religions, unlike other, worldly institutions, often relate to the afterlife. Religions provide rules to live by, solace in times of trouble and a sense of community. Some economic studies suggest that this can promote higher levels of education and income, more marriage and less divorce. Such a ‘club’ needs strong, believable rules. Like marriage, membership will be more valuable the more committed the other participants are to the common cause. Demanding rules — say celibacy, or avoiding meat during Lent — help enhance the level of commitment. Larry Iannaccone, an economist at George Mason University who has studied religions, notes that some of the most successful, like Jehovah’s Witnesses or Pentecostal Christians, which have very fervent congregations, have strict requirements. Religions relax the rules at their own peril. ‘Religions are in the unusual situation in which it pays to make gratuitously costly demands,’ Mr. Iannaccone said. ‘When they weaken their demands they make on members, they undermine their credibility.’”

Monday, April 7, USA Today

Sex on the Brain of Financial Risk Takers

“A new brain-scan study may help explain what’s going on in the minds of financial titans when they take risky monetary gambles — sex. When young men were shown erotic pictures, they were more likely to make a larger financial gamble than if they were shown a picture of something scary, such a snake, or something neutral, such as a stapler, university researchers reported. The arousing pictures lit up the same part of the brain that lights up when financial risks are taken. The link between sex and greed goes back hundreds of thousands of years, to men’s evolutionary role as provider or resource gatherer to attract women, said Kevin McCabe, professor of economics, law and neuroscience at George Mason University, who wasn’t part of the study. ‘Risk-taking is a natural way of increasing your relative success, but, of course, there’s a downside to it, what we’re seeing right now in the economy,’ McCabe said.”

Wednesday, April 9, New York Times

Betting to Improve the Odds

“Corporations live and die by ideas, and many enterprises have used web-based technologies, like blogs, wikis and social networks, to gather thoughts and hasten their way into new services, products and cost-saving steps. Now executives say they are harnessing a new web tool, called prediction markets, to try to improve forecasting, reduce risk and accelerate innovation by tapping into the collective wisdom of the workforce. Robin D. Hanson, an economist at George Mason University, proposes a ‘futarchy,’ a form of government enhanced by prediction markets. Voters would decide broad goals of national welfare, but betting in speculative markets would determine the policy steps to achieve those goals. Few in the corporate world go that far. An important issue is whether prediction markets are mainly an innovative way to gather information from employees or a font of reliable answers.”

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