Mason in the News

Posted: August 15, 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.

Sunday, Aug. 10, Washington Post

On Positive Side, Negative Ads Work

“So much for an ‘honorable campaign’ as the political attack ads of 2008 begin to bombard the public airwaves. Still, the larger question is how this mudslinging with expensive negative campaign advertisements will affect the election outcome and at what cost. Michael Fauntroy, George Mason University public policy professor, said ‘for all the talk about voter’s claiming not to like negative ads, they work and they move voters in one direction or another.’ Mr. Obama made early claims to run a ‘different kind of campaign,’ one that was supposed to rise above the fray, Mr. Fauntroy said. ‘They planted that seed early and that’s not what they wanted to do, so the voters are more likely to give him a pass, … unless the ads get particularly egregious,’ If the race is close, the negative ads can sway a few independent and undecided voters in critical states such as Missouri, Ohio and Florida. ‘Nobody should be surprised that these ads are beginning to hit the airwaves,’ Mr. Fauntroy said, because ‘the reality is that when you’re running a campaign, the last thing you want to do is lose because you were afraid to turn the knife.’”

Monday, Aug. 11, Wall Street Journal

Mortgage-Market Trouble Reaches Big Credit Unions

“Five of the nation’s largest credit unions are reporting big paper losses on mortgage-related securities, a sign that housing-market distress is spreading even to the most risk-averse financial sectors. The federal regulator overseeing credit unions says the losses are likely to be reversed when mortgage markets stabilize, and that the institutions are sound and adequately capitalized. But some outside observers are concerned that the credit unions are underestimating the depth of their mortgage-market problems. ‘This is a serious situation,’ says Gerald Hanweck, a finance professor at George Mason University, who studies the banking industry and is a visiting scholar at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Mr. Hanweck believes the five firms have sufficient access to funding to handle a deeper downturn, but he worries that perceptions of added risk could lead to a run on one or more of them.”

Tuesday, Aug. 12, Los Angeles Times

Longtime Republican Voters are Airing New Views

“Pasco County is only one of the politically potent communities known as exurbs, the outer suburbs of cities, that could provide the margin of victory for the GOP — or not. In eastern Pasco County, where much of the recent growth had occurred, the median price of a single-family home has dropped by nearly one-quarter over the last two years. Since Bush was reelected in 2004, according to a Times analysis, the average cost of gas to drive both ways of the 26-mile commute between the Wrencrest subdivision and downtown Tampa in a typical passenger car has more than doubled, from $4.36 to $9.22.

Similar trends can be seen in the exurban counties around Denver, Las Vegas, Cincinnati and Detroit, and in the Virginia exurbs near Washington, D.C. Stephen S. Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, says that many young families that moved to exurbia since 2000 racked up credit card debt and took on big mortgages. Now, he said, ‘if they’re upside down on their mortgage, they’ll be looking for someone to blame.’”

Tuesday, Aug. 12, New York Times

Handle with Care

“Last year, a private company proposed ‘fertilizing’ parts of the ocean with iron, in hopes of encouraging carbon-absorbing blooms of plankton. Meanwhile, researchers elsewhere are talking about injecting chemicals into the atmosphere, launching sun-reflecting mirrors into stationary orbit above the earth or taking other steps to reset the thermostat of a warming planet. This technology might be useful, even life-saving. But it would inevitably produce environmental effects impossible to predict and impossible to undo. Some scientists and engineers are calling for the same kind of discussion that microbiologists organized in 1975 when the immense power of their emerging knowledge of gene-splicing or recombinant DNA began to dawn on them. The meeting, at the Asilomar conference center in California, gave rise to an ethical framework that still prevails in biotechnology. ‘Something like Asilomar might be very important,’ said Andrew Light, director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University, one of the organizers of a conference in Charlotte, N.C., in April on the ethics of emerging technologies. ‘The question now is how best to begin that discussion among the scientists, to encourage them to do something like this, then figure out what would be the right mechanism, who would fund it, what form would recommendations take, all those details.’”

Thursday, Aug. 14, Wall Street Journal

Movies: From Hollywood to Bollywood

“‘Bollywood calls in Rambo for strike on U.S. cinema.’ So screamed a recent headline in India about Sylvester Stallone’s contract to star in a local movie. Indians are excited about the prospect not only of American influence in Bollywood, India’s Hindi-language movie industry, but also of Indian influence in Hollywood. It will take more than Rambo, however, for the world’s two largest movie industries to smash cultural barriers in each other’s nations. While the notion of India may charm U.S. investors, average American moviegoers are a different market. Indian productions may fascinate film-studies majors and Manhattan art-house audiences, but it’s unclear whether they’ll appeal more broadly. Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University in Virginia and author of ‘Creative Destruction: How Globalization Is Changing the World’s Cultures,’ argues that movies are about familiarity. ‘A feeling of comfort has to be there’ for a movie to succeed, he says. That is the reason that ‘Americans don’t like foreign movies,’ Mr. Cowen says. A Bollywood movie with Indian cultural themes and actors sells tickets to members of the subcontinent’s three-million strong diaspora in the U.S., but not to the average American.”

Thursday, Aug. 14, Washington Post

More Arts Centers Urged in County

“A panel charged with articulating a vision for the future of Fairfax County’s arts programs is recommending building as many as four community arts centers to serve the cultural needs of a growing population of artists and arts patrons. The suggestion is described as a high priority in a report from the Commission on the Future of the Arts in Fairfax County that the group presented to the Board of Supervisors last week. The need for more mid-size arts centers ‘was a recurring theme’ in the panel’s discussions, said Alan G. Merten, president of George Mason University and chairman of the commission. ‘People said, “Put something in my neighborhood.” People want to participate. They want to be on stage, not just in the audience,’ Merten said. The report says officials should also consider the possible need for a performance venue with more than 1,500 seats, an expansion of the Center for the Arts at George Mason or an additional building at Wolf Trap. Merten said he is optimistic about the future of the county’s arts programs. ‘The level of interest from the supervisors was striking,’ he said, and as long as funding and government backing can be secured, the commission’s recommendations have a chance of becoming reality. ‘I think that the issue is going to be to get senior members of the corporate community to say that arts are important.’”

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