Mason in the News

Posted: August 8, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

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

Friday, Aug. 1, Washington Post

Race Moves to Center Stage

“Sen. John McCain’s campaign accused Sen. Barack Obama of playing the ‘race card’ on Thursday, a day after the Democrat said his opponent and other Republicans would try to scare voters by pointing to Obama’s ‘funny name’ and the fact that ‘he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills.’ The charge was the first time the campaigns had directly confronted the subject of race. Roger Wilkins, an African American scholar at George Mason University, called Obama’s statements ‘fair campaigning,’ considering McCain’s recent attacks. ‘It seems to me at this point it would be naive of the Obama campaign not to anticipate efforts to tear at Obama’s character the way Bush tore away at John Kerry’s character four years ago. So if a fellow can rationally expect a Swift boat full of funny racial angles racing at him, he would only be sane to try to deflect that,’ Wilkins said.”

Tuesday, Aug. 5, New York Times

G.O.P. Declines in Voting Rolls in Many States as Democrats Increase

“Well before Senators Barack Obama and John McCain rose to the top of their parties, a partisan shift was under way at the local and state level. For more than three years starting in 2005, there has been a reduction in the number of voters who register with the Republican Party and a rise among voters who affiliate with Democrats and, almost as often, with no party at all. ‘This is very suggestive that there is a fundamental change going on in the electorate,’ said Michael P. McDonald, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an associate professor of political science at George Mason University who has studied voting patterns. Mr. McDonald added that, more typically, voting and registration patterns tended to even out or revert to the opposing party between elections.”

Tuesday, Aug. 5, Washington Post

Anthrax Dryer a Key to Probe

“Bruce E. Ivins, the government’s leading suspect in the 2001 anthrax killings, borrowed from a bioweapons lab that fall freeze-drying equipment that allows scientists to quickly convert wet germ cultures into dry spores, according to sources briefed on the case. Biodefense experts noted that the drying step could have been carried out with equipment no more complicated than a kitchen oven. ‘It is the simplest . . . but it is the least reproducible,’ said Sergei Popov, a former Soviet bioweapons scientist who now specializes in biodefense at George Mason University. ‘If you go too fast you get “sand,”’ he said, referring to the coarser anthrax powder used in the first attacks, in September 2001. The second batch of letters contained a much finer powder. ‘To me, it all indicates that the person experimented with the ways to dry the spores and produced small batches — some of them not so successfully — he later used to fill up different envelopes,’ Popov said. ‘The spores are naturally clumpy. As I understand, he just over baked the first batches.’”

Wednesday, Aug. 6, Christian Science Monitor

Buzz Grows Over State Tax Holidays

“To some, the growing popularity of tax holidays — and the willingness of states to hold them even in the face of dwindling tax revenues — represents a troubling shift in tax policy. Not only are states using a gimmick to manipulate consumer behavior, critics argue, but the resulting revenue losses can also have a destabilizing effect on how states govern. Yet the tax holiday has not proved to be as detrimental as many economists had warned, says Bryan Caplan, a George Mason University public-finance expert who this spring backed the idea of a federal gasoline tax holiday. Despite the artificial stimulus of a tax holiday, he says, ‘we seem to be doing OK.’”

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