Mason in the News

Posted: April 17, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Following are highlights of national news coverage Mason recently received.

Friday, April 10, Wall Street Journal

Web Users Offer Their Two Cents on How to Spend Stimulus Billions

“The Internet is buzzing with discussions about how America should spend the $787 billion in economic-recovery money pouring out of Washington. More than two million people have visited, which was created by Jerry Brito, a government-transparency expert at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Users can read about local projects officials have proposed across the country and submit comments. Around 100,000 votes have been cast at the site on the suitability of some projects, according to site administrators. A suggestion by the housing authority of Laurel, Miss., to spend $99,600 on doorbells for 632 public-housing units has sparked a particularly lively discussion. ‘Get thee to a Home Depot!’ declared one commenter. Another deadpanned: ‘Try knocking.’ At, also created by Mr. Brito, users track proposals submitted to the state’s web site for Virginia’s share of recovery funds. One of the hottest topics: a proposal to spend $100 million to extend a subway line that runs through the District of Columbia further into Virginia.”

Sunday, April 12, Christian Science Monitor

Captain Freed from Pirates in Daring Rescue

“The dramatic Navy rescue Sunday that freed an American cargo ship captain from his Somali captors could begin to change the calculus of the rampant piracy in some of the world’s most traveled and dangerous waters. A key question is now how much the higher profile of the issue, due to the Alabama affair, will prod nations into action. To date, the economics of the issue alone have not compelled a strong coordinated response. The owners of merchant ships have calculated that the risk of having a ship hijacked by pirates is small enough that paying a ransom – and seeing insurance costs rise – is cheaper than arming themselves to deter the problem. ‘That should tell us something about just how low the threat of a pirate attack is,’ says Peter Leeson, an economist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and author of ‘The Invisible Hook,’ a book on modern piracy.”

Monday, April 13, Montel Across America

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Todd Kashdan, professor of psychology, was recently interviewed on Montel Williams’ radio show about ways people can make themselves happier. “Many people have this idea that there’s this one-size-fits-all approach to managing our emotional life, like we have to remain hopeful and always have this positive attitude,” Kashdan said. “But that’s actually not the case. I’ve seen and done a lot of research on positive psychology and determined that we have to find out what we’re most passionate about and what our central values are. Many people spend more time wondering about what car they’re going to buy three years from now or where they’re going to spend their summer vacation, than what it is they want their life to be about. If we don’t know what we’re about and what we care about, then we can never be truly happy.”

Monday, April 13, USA Today

Obamas Attend St. John’s But Haven’t Settled on Church

“President Obama picked the self-described ‘Church of the Presidents,’ a history-drenched Episcopal church across from the White House, for his first venture to services since he was inaugurated Jan. 20. For Obama, ‘it’s a very safe and traditional choice. It makes perfect sense on Easter Sunday for him to follow in the steps of his predecessors,’ said Mark Rozell, a George Mason University political scientist who studies presidents and religion. Two days before Obama was sworn in, he attended a service at the Nineteenth St. Baptist Church, founded in 1839 as the first black church in Washington. Last week, Obama hosted a Passover Seder at the White House. ‘This is exactly what a president should be doing: showcasing a broad, open, interdenominational approach. He is ultimately president of all the people,’ Rozell said.”

Monday, April 13, Washington Post

Foreclosure Sales Stalled by Red Tape

“As bargain hunters turn their attention to foreclosures, many are discovering the toughest challenge is dealing with the banks that repossessed the homes. These banks are usually quick to accept a bid and write a contract. But the closer buyers get to the settlement table, the greater the potential for bureaucratic bungling and the chance the buyers will give up. The housing market stands little chance of recovering until the foreclosures are sold. Distressed properties make up roughly a quarter of U.S. homes for sale. By all accounts, banks are overwhelmed by the record foreclosure volume. In the Washington region, there were 217 foreclosures as of April 1 for every 10,000 properties, up from 16 about two years ago, according to George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis.

Tuesday, April 14, Forbes

Deployment Takes Toll on Military Moms and Teens

“When military mothers are away at war, their teenage children are more likely to slip into trouble, from getting into fights to earning poor grades at school, a new study has found. But adolescents whose mothers reported that they had strong family support during the deployment tended to fare better. ‘Adolescents are in that difficult time of life where they are exposed to a lot of risk factors, possibly from their peer group,’ said study author Mona Ternus, an associate professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. ‘They are at an intermediate stage where they want to break away and be independent, but they still want their parent there. The deployment interrupts them in their developmental stage.’ Ternus asked 77 mothers who were in the military to fill out detailed surveys about their health and including perceptions of their child’s behavior before, during and after their deployment. About 75 percent of the mothers said their children were engaged in no risky behavior before their deployment.”

Thursday, April 16, Newsweek

The Debt Crusader Has Gone to D.C. to Change the Way America Borrows

“Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor, is one of the nation’s leading bankruptcy scholars. But some of her ideas have sharp critics. ‘A credit card is not an exploding toaster,’ says Todd Zywicki, a law professor at George Mason University, because unlike faulty consumer products, complicated loans are actually suitable for some borrowers. Zywicki says Warren’s views are extreme because she views every lender as exploitative and every borrower as a hapless victim. Financial-industry lobbyists are even more critical, slamming her for shoddy scholarship and radical ideas (though they decline to do so publicly).”

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