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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