Archive for January, 2019

Two New Threat Assessments Released – One for the Nation, One for New Jersey

The Worldwide Threat Assessment for 2019 was released by the DNI as part of his remarks to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Among the various dangers to this country is environmental deterioration due to climate change: “Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security. Irreversible damage to ecosystems and habitats will undermine the economic benefits they provide, worsened by air, soil, water, and marine pollution.” (23)

The 2019 Terrorism Threat Assessment, issued by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, is supported by charts, profiles, timelines, relevant links, and definitions outlining the different threats to the safety of New Jersey. The highest level of threat assessment is allocated to “homegrown violent extremists”.



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Can the President Build His Wall without Congressional Approval?

In these contentious times, the president has stated that he would declare a national emergency and re-allocate funds set aside for disaster rebuilding and utilize those monies to build the wall. These two CRS reports –  Can the Department of Defense Build the Border Wall? and  Military Construction Funding in the Event of a National Emergency – offer some guidance, though the outcome would probably have to be settled in court.

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U.S. Intelligence Chiefs Testify before the Senate on Security Threats

All the major security chiefs appeared before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee to give their fact-based evaluations of security threats that the president has downplayed of late. They are of the opinion that these threats have not been eradicated but still present grave threats. The more than two-hour session, along with a searchable transcript, is available here through C-SPAN. A summary of these various testimonies can be found here.

Here is but one of the president’s tweets in response to his chiefs’ opinions. This Washington Post piece examines the president’s views that are far different than what his intelligence chiefs believe.

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New Jersey School Closings/Delays for Wednesday, January 30, 2019

This site is fairly comprehensive.

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The Year 2018 According to Pew

From news overload to cyberbullying to immigration to climate change, the Pew Research Center has released its 18 striking findings for 2018. Each of the items has a link to the original research findings that are themselves buttressed by statistics and charts. See if you agree with Pew, or would you have added another subject not covered in this feature?

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What Do Provosts Think, 2019 Version

The 2019 Inside Higher Ed Survey of Chief Academic Officers has some revealing key points:

  • Most provosts are skeptical of the way some colleges have eliminated departments based on low numbers of majors.
  • More than three-quarters (78 percent) of provosts believe that colleges are prioritizing technology and professional programs over those that support general education.


  • 90 percent of provosts believe that high-quality undergraduate education requires healthy departments in traditional liberal arts fields such as English, history and political science.
  • A majority of provosts are concerned about the impact of cuts to academic programs in higher education, and at their institutions.
  • Only 31 percent of provosts believe that their students understand the purpose of general education requirements.
  • Most provosts report pressure from presidents, boards and deans to focus on academic programs outside of the liberal arts.
  • Provosts — more than faculty members — are willing to make changes in the way textbooks are selected to save students money.
  • A majority of provosts believe that students feel comfortable in classrooms, but some doubt whether this is the case for minority and conservative students.

Me Too

The Me Too movement initially drew attention to harassment endemic in the entertainment industry, but it found no shortage of harassment in academe as well, with students and faculty members (especially graduate students and junior professors) reporting that senior academic colleagues had harassed them. In many cases, complaints concerned patterns of behavior — sometimes widely known at institutions — in which the abuses of power by prominent professors were tolerated for years. And as in the entertainment industry, many of the victims felt powerless to bring charges against people who could make or break their careers.

More than two-thirds of provosts (69 percent) agreed that “higher education has tolerated sexual harassment by faculty members for far too long.” More than a third (36 percent) strongly agreed with the statement, with the strongly agreeing view most likely to be held by those at doctoral institutions. (Among all the provosts who responded to the survey, 48 percent were women.)

But asked about their own institutions, only 13 percent agreed that their colleges and universities had tolerated sexual harassment by faculty members for far too long. Six percent strongly agreed with that statement, with provosts at public doctoral institutions most likely (11 percent) to strongly agree. Some of the most prominent cases of harassment findings in academe have been found at research universities (with some of those cases involving graduate students), and many fit the pattern in which punishments were not viewed as harsh enough.

On the issue of punishment, provosts strongly agreed that a finding of harassment by a tenured professor should be grounds for dismissal. But only a minority agree that such findings should be made public. The lack of publicity of findings has led some advocates for women in academe to circulate lists of those found to have engaged in harassment. (Summary)




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“The Garden of Eden Is No More”

This is from part of Sir David Attenborough’s speech at Davos. Read the speech here and watch it here.

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2019 National Intelligence Strategy Released

The National Intelligence Strategy of the United States 2019 has been released. This document both outlines the threats facing the country as well as some operational objectives that are important to the IC. This is a short report, but one that will guide the IC in mission-critical sectors.

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Photos of the World’s Most Stunning Libraries

How many have you visited?

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Online Primary Sources in American History: NAACP Annual Reports

Available online are reports from 1910 – 1923 and from 2004 to the present.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: Historic Civil Rights Documents

Tracing the torturously slow struggle for full rights, Civil rights and African Americans : a documentary history, presents primary sources ranging from colonial times through the 1960s. (An updated preface incorporates citations to more recent texts through 1990.) Each source is introduced by a brief essay that places the document in question in its historical context. One the earliest pieces, document 7, shows how New Jersey treated its African American slaves.

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World’s Oceans Warming Up More Quickly Than Previously Thought

While this article in Science is short, it surely gives rise to dire thoughts; this article from Scientific American explains the situation in more manageable terms. In either case, the outlook is not promising. As if this isn’t frightening by itself, this warming will only accelerate the Antarctic ice melt that has been increasing exponentially over the past years as seen in this recent Nature article

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A Look at Moscow’s Libraries

Libraries are fulfilling much the same needs as those in this country. Read/listen to this NPR report.

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New Jersey School Closings/Delays for Friday, January 18, 2019

This is as good a place to start as any.

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New Development at Bayfront

This property, right across from University Place, has been languishing for years after the announcement that a huge, mixed-use project would be undertaken. The upshot is that Jersey City has purchased the property and has hired an architectural firm to come up with some preliminary plans for this hundred-acre site. Read about the newest version here.

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Top 10 TED Talks of the Year

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How Much Have Your New Jersey Property Taxes Gone Up?

Using this interactive feature, you can trace the ineluctable rise in property taxes over the past 20 years. And, of course, median income has not kept up with these steep increases.

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2019 EdTech Predictions for High Education

Twenty movers and shakers in edtech were interviewed for their opinions on what 2019 holds for that sector. Read their near-term prognostications here.

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Watch Governor Murphy’s State of the State Address

It will be broadcast live on NJTV’s YouTube channel.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: Trails West

Across the Plains, Mountains and Desert is a bibliography of almost 4500 items of primary and secondary sources dealing with the overland trails from 1812 to 1912. (Where available, links are provided to the full text document.) As is stated in the preface “This bibliography does not discriminate against fur traders, Frenchmen,soldiers, expressmen, merchants, miners bound for Pikes Peak or Montana, or Mormons bound for Utah. If a man, woman, or child left an account of their experiences crossing the northern overland route across the Great Plains, whether going of east or west, I hope it appears here.” (8) Other more specialized sites include Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, Travels in America, 1750 to 1920, Mountain Men and the Fur TradeThe Gold Rush of California: A Bibliography of Periodical Articles, “California As I Saw It”: First-Person Narratives of Early California, 1849-1900, Oregon Trail Emigrant Resources, and the Merrill J Mattes Collection (trail diaries).

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