Daily Herald the Brown
vol. cxliv, no. 108 | Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Serving the community daily since 1891
Man shot Four months later, Rohde ’90 recounts captivity near Brown Stadium By Jenna Stark News Editor
By Joanna Wohlmuth Metro Editor
A man was seriously wounded during a drive-by shooting Monday morning on Camp Street — about four blocks from Brown Stadium — and was taken to Rhode Island Hospital where he underwent surgery, according to Providence Police Detective Lt. Paul Campbell. The victim, identified by neighbors as Kenton Perry, is in his early 20s, according to the Providence Journal. PPD Chief Dean Esserman told the Journal that the victim sustained “life threatening injuries” after being shot twice while walking near Camp and Grand View Streets around 10:30 a.m. Esserman said police do not think the shooting was a random act. As of 6 p.m. Monday night, the victim remained in recover y, and detectives were waiting to speak to him further, Campbell said. Police are looking for a “blue, four-door Volvo with a sunroof that fled the scene,” Campbell said, adding that detectives are working on the case.
Quinn Savit / Herald
David Rohde ’90 gave his first public lecture since his escape from the Taliban in Pakistan four months ago.
continued on page 3
DPS used pepper spray to break up weekend brawl By Ellen Cushing Senior Staf f Writer
The location of Monday’s shooting on Camp Street (top left).
Few people captured by the Taliban live to tell the tale. David Rohde ’90, a New York Times journalist who four months ago escaped from the Taliban in a tribal area of Pakistan, spoke to a packed List 120 Monday about his experience. Rohde gave his first major presentation since his return to the United States at his alma mater, speaking to members of the Brown community about his seven months and 10 days in captivity and sharing his thoughts on the future of journalism. “I hope to spark a discussion about the United States’ really complex decisions and issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Rohde said at the beginning of his lecture, adding that he previously had “not talked ver y much about all this.” Rohde has already authored a five-part series about his kidnapping, life in captivity and ultimate escape that ran in the Times in October. “Any good story has to be about a character that people identify with,” Rohde said of his writing about his experience. “It’s just odd
that it’s me.” The lecture, which was organized by Brown’s Nonfiction Writing Program, lasted for about a half-hour. For another hour, Rohde answered questions, which spanned a variety of topics including his experience in Pakistan, his thoughts on journalism and the state of international af fairs in South Asia and the Middle East. Rohde began his lecture discussing his kidnapping in Afghanistan by Taliban Commander Abu Tayyeb, a man Rohde was scheduled to inter view for a book he was writing on the region. Rohde, a local Afghan reporter and their driver were held at gunpoint and driven for 48 hours from Afghanistan to Pakistan, he said. Once in Pakistan, Rohde said he was amazed to find a “Taliban ministate,” a place where his guards took bomb-making classes from foreign militants, Arabs and Uzbeks “strolled through local markets” and Taliban construction crews worked on the roads. The tribal areas in Pakistan have become far more fundamentalist than anyone previously thought, Rohde said. “What was troubling
Department of Public Safety officers used pepper spray to break up a fight at a party in Alumnae Hall Saturday night, according to a campus-wide e-mail sent Monday night by Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn.
There were at least two small fights at “Scandalous,” a par ty hosted by the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, The Herald repor ted Monday. After the second altercation, a student told The Herald, “there was a kind of powder in the air” that made partygoers cough. The student also said she saw a blood on another attendee’s shirt
after leaving the party. Klawunn’s e-mail confirmed that a fight erupted and that DPS responded. She also noted that pepper spray is rarely used by campus officers and that “when it is discharged, there is a full review of how and why it was used to determine if the use was consistent with departmental policies and protocols.”
This investigation will be spearheaded by Director of Public Safety Mark Por ter, according to the e-mail, which also mentioned the Student Activities Office and the sponsoring organization would conduct a review of the party’s management plan, which is standard practice when problems break out at student events.
On alum’s farm, vegetables are from Mars By Joe Milner Contributing Writer
It all started with a single homegrown radish. “There were six kids in this apartment next door to us, and they always hung out in the backyard all the time,” said Catherine Mardosa ’03, who founded Red Planet Vegetables, an urban farm operation dedicated to bringing fresh, local and chemical-free produce to Providence residents. “They saw me pull a radish and rinse it off and eat it, and they were disgusted,” she said. “They were so revolted that I had taken something out of the ground and put it in my
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mouth.” Mardosa’s desire to engage the curiosity of the children in her neighborhood and educate them about where food comes from inspired her to grow beyond her backyard garden. Along with her partner Matt Tracy, Mardosa began
FEATURE gardening in a neighbor’s backyard in Providence’s West End. Currently in its sixth year of operation, the local organization has expanded from its humble roots to harvesting year-round from urban plots and an acre of farmland in Johnston. It sells the vegetables it grows to lo-
cal restaurants, the Armory Park Farmers’ Market in the West End of Providence and local residents in shares. Sowing seeds Besides the kids next door, Mardosa said the West End’s urban environment also inspired her and Tracy to begin farming in Providence. Tracy and Mardosa had bought a house in the West End surrounded by litter-strewn vacant lots. Both had kept gardens before their move and wanted to use gardening to transform the urban landscape. “We saw so much possibility,” continued on page 4
Joe Milner / Herald
Red Planet Vegetables brings chemical-free produce to Providence.
Higher Ed, 4
gee whiz Former U. President Gordon Gee named “Big Man on Campus” by Time
Jac of all trades Jac’s, an apparel store, is the newest addition to College Hill businesses
NOT TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL
195 Angell Street, Providence, Rhode Island
Ivy Chang ’10 says those seeking a college education should have access to it email@example.com
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
C ampus N EWS
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
“‘You wanted to get Superman to walk again.’” Diane Hoffman-Kim, on how the dean of medicine described
higher ed news roundup by ellen cushing and sarah husk senior staff writers
American students going abroad at record rate, survey shows
Julia Kim / Herald
Diane Hoffman-Kim (far right) and her research team have made an artificial environment to grow nerve cells.
Research explores nerve cell regeneration By Julia Kim Contributing Writer
A team of scientists led by a Brown professor is conducting research that could lead to the regeneration of injured nerve cells and renewed feeling in numb, damaged body parts. Headed by Associate Professor of Medical Science and Engineering Diane Hoffman-Kim, the study has the potential to change the understanding that, unlike other cells in the body, nerve cells do not regenerate and can remain damaged for
the rest of one’s lifetime. The research consists of multiple projects and is modeled after a “more complicated approach” from a biomedical engineering perspective, Hoffman-Kim said. Unlike many biomedical research approaches, there has been no animal testing or clinical trials, as much of the work is done “in a dish,” she added. In encouraging the regeneration of injured nerve cells, the mechanisms of normal development are “recapitulated,” she said, adding that this is possible with greater
Daily Herald the Brown
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The Brown Daily Herald (USPS 067.740) is an independent newspaper serving the Brown University community daily since 1891. It is published Monday through Friday during the academic year, excluding vacations, once during Commencement, once during Orientation and once in July by The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. Single copy free for each members of the community. POSTMASTER please send corrections to P.O. Box 2538, Providence, RI 02906. Periodicals postage paid at Providence, R.I. Offices are located at 195 Angell St., Providence, R.I. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. World Wide Web: http://www.browndailyherald.com. Subscription prices: $319 one year daily, $139 one semester daily. Copyright 2009 by The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.
technology and the more “comprehensive and robust understanding” scientists now have of cell mechanisms and cell biology. The team has made artificial materials that look just like Schwann cells — brain cells that aid transmission of neural signals by wrapping around neurons. Hoffman-Kim said she could not tell the difference between the ar tificial and real Schwann cells — and neither could the nerve cells. She said when she researched tissue regeneration as a graduate student, she and colleagues were “doomed” to fail because of the lack of knowledge in the area. The other members of HoffmanKim’s research group include Julie Richardson ’07 GS, Cristina LopezFagundo GS, Jennifer Mitchel GS, Yu-Ting Liu ’06 GS, Talisha Ramchal ’11, Cameron Rementer ’10 and a senior research assistant, Liane Livi. The research group is very interdisciplinary, Hoffman-Kim said, with members from such diverse backgrounds as molecular biology, mathematics and biotechnology. Rementer and Richardson previously held Undergraduate Teaching and Research Assistantships worked with Hoffman-Kim. The “value of the UTRA program” needs to be stressed, Hoffman-Kim said. Brown is a “great place to have smart people work together.” According to Hof fman-Kim, Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Edward Wing summarized the goal of the researchers quite well. “You wanted to get Superman to walk again,” she said he told her. “We really want to understand how things work,” she added. Mitchel and Richardson expressed similar goals. “Basic understanding” eventually translates into helping people, Mitchel said. “Not tomorrow,” but maybe in “10 years,” she added. “Things happen slowly.”
College students — both American and foreign — are studying abroad in record numbers, according to an exhaustive annual survey of international education. According to the report, “Open Doors,” which was released Monday by the Institute of International Education, the number of foreign students studying in the United States increased 8 percent in the 20082009 school year, for an all-time high of 671,616. At the same time, the number of American students studying abroad increased in the 2007-2008 school year, for a total of 262,416 — an 8.5 percent increase over the previous year. Data on where Americans tend to study abroad and where foreign students tend to originate remain largely unchanged, according to a Nov. 16 article on the online higher education magazine Inside Higher Ed. The list of most popular study-abroad destinations for Americans was the same in 2007-2008 as it was the previous year, with Britain, Italy, Spain, France and China topping the list. Like in the previous year, India, China and South Korea were the top three countries sending students to study in the United States. Assault over ‘white privilege’ by Columbia prof A Columbia professor has been charged with assaulting a female colleague after a discussion about race relations between the two turned violent at a bar on the night of Nov. 6, the New York Post reported last week. According to the Post, Lionel McIntyre, who is black, was engaged in a conversation about white privilege and racial issues with Margaret Camille Davis, a production manager who works in Columbia’s theater department, and another white male, who has not been identified. McIntyre allegedly began to shove Davis, and when onlookers attempted to restrain him, punched Davis in the face. McIntyre is a 59-year-old associate professor in Columbia’s urban design program, part of the University’s architecture school, according to the Columbia Spectator, which also reported the story. The professor was released the night of his arraignment without bail. “It was a very unfortunate event,” McIntyre told the Post. “I didn’t mean for it to explode the way it did.” UMass backtracks on terrorist invitation The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which incited a debate about free speech earlier this month when faculty members invited a convicted terrorist to speak at an on-campus event scheduled for last Thursday, has announced that the terms of the prospective speaker’s parole prevent him from traveling between states, according to the Boston Globe. The school’s Social Thought and Political Economy program invited Roy Luc Levasseur, co-founder of the extremist United Freedom Front and a convict in the 1980s of terrorism and bombing. The decision incited the criticism of university administrators and state officials, the newspaper reported. The institution had already officially revoked the invitation earlier this month, but within several days of the university cancelling Levasseur’s appearance on campus, members of the faculty re-invited him, raising questions about free speech and drawing the ire of many, including the state’s governor, Deval Patrick, according to the Globe. “I fully get the point and respect the idea of free speech. But I think it is a reflection of profound insensitivity to continue to try and have this former terrorist on campus,” Patrick said, the Globe reported last week. In an interview with the Globe published Nov. 12, Levasseur said free speech was at stake. “They just don’t want me to do it. It’s the voice that they want to silence,” he said .
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
C ampus N EWS Rohde shares dark tale of his kidnapping continued from page 1 was my guards expressed a burning desire to carr y out suicide attacks in the United States,” he said. The “hardline” men living in the tribal areas of Pakistan exist in an “alternative reality,” Rohde said, adding that the people with whom he interacted while in captivity believed that Islam was under a “world-wide assault by America, Europe and Israel.” But instead of being part of a pious religious movement, his captors “operated more like a criminal organization,” Rohde said. Many of the guards had extreme misconceptions regarding American culture and the Christian faith, he said. A Pakistani suicide bomber with whom Rohde lived for six weeks believed that a necktie was a secret symbol of Christianity. The guards were also ver y poorly educated. None of his guards had “seen the world beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan” and “suicide bombers were like local celebrities,” Rohde said. But the guards were initially friendly to Rohde, who said they called him the “golden hen.” But when his capture did not lead to millions of dollars in ransom money, the guards complained that he was “wor thless” and “physically dir ty” because he was not a Muslim. Emphasizing that he did not want to make political statements during his talk, Rohde said the Predator drones — remotely piloted aircrafts — used by the U.S. militar y in Pakistan are “not the solution” to the growing fundamentalist threat in the region. Predator air-strikes, some of which fell close to Rohde’s location in Pakistan, led the Taliban to blame a local farmer in the area for being an American spy and torture him until he confessed. The drones, Rohde said, are “creating a stalemate.” After seven months, Rohde said he grew to believe the Taliban would never reach an agreement for his release. He and Tahir Ludin, the local reporter who was captured along with him, decided to tr y to escape to a nearby Pakistani government militia base. Rohde and Ludin used a cow towrope to lower themselves over the wall ringing the compound in which they were held. “It was very dangerous,” Rohde said. “If we had been caught, they might kill me, but they definitely would kill Tahir.” The two journalists were able to call their families from the base. “I’m so lucky to be home,” Rohde said. Accompanied by both his mother and his wife Kristen Mulvihill ’91, Rohde said his family “kept him going” throughout his captivity.
Despite his harrowing experience in Pakistan, Rohde said he was hopeful about the future of the region, because there are moderate Afghans and Pakistanis who disagree with the Taliban and with militancy in general. “Since I’ve been home I’ve gotten many calls and apologies from moderate Pakistanis and Afghans,” Rohde said. While his hardline captors “hated Barack Obama more than George W. Bush” for sending more troops and drones into Afghanistan and Pakistan, Rohde said many moderate Pakistanis were encouraged by Obama’s election and his widely watched address in Cairo this summer. In addition to discussing his time in captivity, Rohde addressed the new opportunities and challenges of modern journalism as many print newspapers downsize or fold. He said there is an even greater need for objective, on-the-ground repor ters, especially in regions that would other wise remain uncovered. “You are the generation that will re-invent and save journalism,” Rohde said, citing creative use of print publication, Web sites, blogs and podcasts as potential ways to revitalize media. Despite the danger he faced, Rohde recommended that Brown students consider journalism as a potential career. “Go interact with the world,” he said. “It’s an extraordinar y place filled with extraordinar y people.”
“Go interact with the world.” — David Rohde ’90, New York Times reporter and escaped Taliban prisoner
Q&A with David Rohde New York Times reporter David Rohde ’90 escaped from the Taliban four months ago after being kidnapped while on assignment in Afghanistan. Rohde gave his first public lecture about his experience on Monday in List 120. He also sat down with The Herald to discuss how his perspective has changed since the ordeal and how it feels to share his story with the public. What have you been doing with your time since you returned from captivity? How have you been spending the last four months? The initial focus was trying to get Asad (Mangal), our driver, released. And after five weeks he returned to Kabul, which was just absolutely wonderful. And then after that, it was a very long process of writing these stories. It took me longer than I thought. And most importantly, trying to spend time with my wife and my family. I’m just very lucky, and very happy to be home. There was a lot of information for you to put in your series. How did you decide what to share with your audience? I actually tried to keep it pretty accurate in terms of the flow of events as they actually occurred. I did, and I said this in the story, I did withhold certain details that I thought would endanger people, and it was a process of just frankly telling a story of how my own perceptions of the Taliban changed. What they were in the beginning — they seemed to be reasonable, and they seemed like maybe they would agree to some kind of compromise — until
the end when I was increasingly frankly angry with them and what they were doing to my family and just convinced they would never make an agreement. And I think that if we hadn’t escaped then, we would still be over there today. You have been writing a book on Afghanistan and Pakistan for several years now. How has what you’re including in the book changed? I want to finish the book I was researching when we were kidnapped. A primary part of it is going to be the kidnapping. I’m just trying to figure out how to restructure the outline I had for the book before. The kidnapping occurred on my last reporting trip for the book. I was ready to go and ready to write the whole thing, and this has obviously changed the focus of the book. I’m surprised and encouraged by the reaction of the story. Telling the story of our captivity seems to have gotten people interested in the Taliban and Pakistan and Afghanistan — and more interested than in the past. And it’s an incredibly important issue for Afghans and Pakistanis and Americans. Do you mind telling us a bit more about how the book has changed from what you originally conceptualized? The original book had virtually nothing about me, no first-person sections. The question now is how much of it will be on the kidnapping. And I think a very large part of it is now going to be about the kidnapping with more context, I think, and background and nuance, I hope. My goal is that the
book will have the same tone of the series, which I tried to keep dispassionate. The important thing is not us and our story and our experience. What I’m trying to do is use the kidnapping as a vehicle to inform people more about the Taliban and the region. How has it been, having to relive this experience for your series, for lectures, to write your book? It’s a mixed bag, but I think that it’s worth doing because the situation that exists in the tribal areas today is so dangerous to Pakistanis and Afghans and Americans. It’s very important to tell people about the reality there. So, I hope this is a positive thing that’s helping inform people. The problem is even more complex than I realized before the kidnapping. Do you have any advice for Brown students who are international relations majors or interested in the region or are future journalists? Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. Good, accurate, compelling stories will rise to the top whether they’re on a blog or in a podcast or in a newspaper or on a Web site. It’s great reporting and storytelling that will succeed, and you just have to believe that’s going to happen. When I was at Brown I never imagined I’d be in any situation like this — both the good sides and the bad sides. There always has been a need for storytellers and journalists throughout human history, and that will continue. —Jenna Stark
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
C ampus N EWS
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
“I don’t know if you can imagine how much 17 pounds of salad is.” — Laura Brown-Lavoie ’10.5, who works twice a week at Mathewson Farm
violence is not the answer
Trip to France fueled interest in organic farming continued from page 1
Nick Sinnott-Armstrong / Herald
Lewis Lipsitt, a professor emeritus of psychology, appeared Tuesday afternoon in MacMillan 117 at the annual lecture that bears his name. Panelists discussed the origins of youth violence and what can be done to prevent it.
Time names former U. president ‘Big Man’ By Brigitta Greene Senior Staf f Writer
Former Brown president Gordon Gee, the current president of Ohio State University, was named “The Big Man on Campus” one of the top 10 college presidents by Time Magazine earlier this month. Gee’s tenure at Brown lasted only 25 months — he resigned abruptly in 2000 to take the position of chancellor at Vanderbilt University, the school’s top administrative post. His path to “Big Man” status has been anything but average. A 2006 article in the Wall Street
Journal described his “recurring pattern,” which was to “disrupt the status quo, lift the university’s image, raise a lot of money and leave for another job.” But Time described Gee as “campaigning for a revolution” to bring higher education to a new frontier, transforming the nation’s universities into economic powerhouses of the future. As the economy becomes increasingly knowledge- and service-based, universities have the potential to shape not only the future of research and economic development, but also the direction of public policy, according to
the magazine. “Being president of a major public university is the most political nonpolitical of fice around,” Gee told the magazine. “We’re campaigning on behalf of our mission.” The itinerant university president is also a well-compensated one. His total pay at Ohio State was $1.35 million in the fiscal year ending in June 2008, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education — the highest figure for any president of a public university in the United States. And though his tenure at Brown was marked with controversy, Gee has been well-received by the students of Ohio State. “If you invite him to any party, he’ll be there,” Sam McCoy, a junior at Ohio State, told The Herald. “You would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t like him.”
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Mardosa said. The operation’s name came to Mardosa and Tracy as a result of a very different sort of experiment — the Mars Rover landings in 2004. Mardosa said they used to sit in their backyard at night and look at Mars while they talked about starting the farm. They remembered that the Roman deity had once been a god of agriculture before he was changed into a god of war. “It was the beginning of the war (in Iraq), and we were just thinking that we could make people think … about agriculture instead of war,” Mardosa said. Red Planet Vegetables officially began that year in a neighbor’s backyard and in a hay field in North Rehoboth, Mass. Mardosa has avoided tractor farming because of the vehicles’ dependence on fossil fuels, she said, so she and Tracy purchased hand tools and a roto-tiller to turn the earth and set to work. Starting a farm from scratch created a unique set of challenges and opportunities, Mardosa said, citing their attempts to try new methods of growing their vegetables. “We don’t have a sense of how it’s supposed to work, so we just try to use what we’ve got and borrow things and build things,” she said. Since 2004, the organization has changed locations frequently. It maintains two urban plots, growing perennials such as berries, asparagus and herbs, but the vast majority of its produce is now grown on a 1.5-acre plot in Johnston. Located on a farm owned by the Mathewson family since 1780, the suburban plot has offered Mardosa and Tracy more space to grow but has also set them outside the urban community they intended to serve. “I loved it when I could spend more of my days in the neighborhood talking to the people that walked by,” Mardosa said. “But it makes a lot more sense to have a piece of land big enough to grow for enough people.” A growing movement Over the past few months, Laura Brown-Lavoie ’10.5 has learned just how much “enough” is. Twice a week, she bikes to Mardosa’s house in Providence, rides out to the Mathewson farm and spends about five hours harvesting parsley, radishes, lettuce, greens, beets and carrots. “I don’t know if you can imagine how much 17 pounds of salad is,” she said about a recent harvest. Brown-Lavoie’s interest in farming began last fall, when she took a semester off and traveled in France through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms network. Although her decision to “WWOOF” began as a way to
see the countr y, Brown-Lavoie said that when she returned for the spring semester, she realized how much she missed working on a farm. She began working with City Farm, a project run by the Southside Community Land Trust. Over the summer, she spent Tuesdays and Thursdays working with Mardosa for Red Planet Vegetables. Brown-Lavoie said she found growing food in the city fulfilling, so she created an independent study project that allowed her to continue working twice a week this semester. While Brown-Lavoie has volunteered her time, most of the people who work in the fields with Mardosa and Tracy participate in Red Planet Vegetables’ Community Supported Agriculture, a business model in which members pay for a share of vegetables in advance and then receive a portion of each week’s produce. Red Planet Vegetables’ CSA members also contribute a given number of hours to working on the plots. After being impressed by Mardosa’s and Tracy’s produce at the Armory market, Sarah Bernstein ’04.5 participated in the farm’s winter CSA and joined its inaugural summer CSA this year. “They’re being innovative in how they structure it and trying to be in conversation with the members of the CSA as much as possible,” she said. Over the course of the summer season, Bernstein said she helped harvest three or four times. Like Brown-Lavoie, on each harvest Bernstein dedicated the better part of the day to picking and preparing vegetables — including arugula, parsley, herbs, greens and squash. In addition to receiving her share of the produce, Bernstein said she also benefited from Mardosa’s knowledge about growing plants. “That was an added incentive to me as a gardener and a curious person who wants to know more about the food that I eat,” Bernstein said. Farming for the future Sunday afternoon found the Mathewson plot drenched in November sunlight. Rows of lettuce and greens peeked out from the soil, their leafy heads covered in dew droplets. Nearby, Tracy worked on building the metal hoop house that will allow Red Planet Vegetables to continue to grow its produce through the winter. The bulk of these vegetables will end up being served in local restaurants. In turn, scraps from some of those restaurants will become compost, like the heaps Brown-Lavoie has helped build at City Farm. Brown-Lavoie said she appreciates being able to participate in this cycle of growth and re-use. “Citizens of cities have to stop assuming that what we need will be brought to us,” she said. “We have to grow our own food.”
Metro The Brown Daily Herald
“The institutions are starting to stretch their capacity.” — Steve Maurano, state commissioner for higher education Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Page 5
College Hill sports new apparel store By Sydney Ember Senior Staff Writer
Friday the 13th wasn’t so unlucky for the storefront at 183 Angell St. The retail space, which has sat empty since Planned Parenthood Express closed last fall, is now home to a newly opened apparel store called JAC’s. “We’re definitely looking to attract people that are from this area,” said owner Christina Marsland, adding that she chose to open her store on the auspicious day because it was her “luckiest day.” JAC’s — which stands for jewelry, accessories and clothing — offers “fashion on a budget,” Marsland said, with apparel marked at a “lower price-point, so it’s affordable to everybody.” The store also features an area with coffee urns and cookies for customers looking to snag a bite as they peruse the retail selection. Marsland said she first noticed the empty location, directly across from Spats Restaurant, in September as she walked around the East Side of Providence in search of open storefronts. A month later, “it was still open, and I went for it,” she said. But Marsland said only a handful of customers visited the new shop in its first few days, which she attributed to the weekend rain. “A lot of people said we had good prices,” she said. Marsland is only using the front of the store to display her selection of coats, T-shirts and jewelry, but she said she has plans to create a sale room or provide “another service” in the back area, which she said would add to her repertoire of low-priced, “youth-oriented” offerings. “We try to (keep prices) low for
Kim Perley / Herald
JAC — which stands for jewelry, accessories and clothing — opened on Angell Street in the space formerly occupied by Planned Parenthood Express.
the students,” she said. “We just want to be part of the neighborhood around here.” The clothing store’s opening kicks off the wave of stores and restaurants that are set to open in the next few months on or around Thayer Street. Better Burger Company will open at 215-217 Thayer St. in January, owner Andy Mitrelis told The Herald last month. New businesses are also set to move into the spaces previously containing Roba Dolce and Geoff’s sandwich shop, according to property manager Kent
Rising expenditures, lower revenues fuel R.I.’s deficit By Ana Alvarez Staff Writer
Despite attempts to balance the budget, Rhode Island’s deficit is estimated at $219.8 million for the current fiscal year, according to an official memo from the State Budget Office last Friday. That projection comes after the office held its semi-annual Revenue Estimating Conference Nov. 5 and 10. The conference, which by law must be held twice a year to update state revenue and spending estimates, attributed the deficit to a large drop in expected revenue and an increase in expenditures, both products of the economic recession, according to the memo. Since the 2010 fiscal year began in July, Rhode Island has developed a revenue shortfall of $130.4 million, according to the budget office’s findings. That was in part due to decreases in revenue of $64 million from the sales tax, $44 million from the income tax and $18.9 million from the business corporation tax. After accounting for $34.9 million
in overspending and the $61.8 million deficit left over from the last fiscal year, the conference reached its $219.8 million estimate. Last week, the Pew Center on the States released a report, “Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril,” that identified Rhode Island as one of 10 states headed toward economic disaster. In a statement issued Nov. 10, Gov. Donald Carcieri ’65 called the revenue forecast “poor,” adding that the deficit proves that the state is “still in the throes of an economic recession.” Amy Kempe, the governor’s spokeswoman, said in an interview that the deficit was not “unexpected,” calling the large drop in revenue and spending increase “a direct result” of the recession. The General Assembly sent a joint resolution calling on Carcieri to submit a plan to balance the budget by this week, Kempe said. While the governor acknowledged in his statement that “there continued on page 6
Stetson ’01. Stetson said the storefront, which he also manages, remained unoccupied for more than a year before a new tenant expressed interest in the space. “There are a lot of risks in starting a new business,” he said. “The rent’s really very good there, but it’s a very difficult retail market now.”
metro in brief
More students at R.I. public schools despite cuts With a $36 million budget decrease over the past two years, Rhode Island’s three public institutes of higher education have been left with unfulfilled staff positions and falling financial aid per recipient despite rising enrollment. The University of Rhode Island, the Community College of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College cumulatively enroll 43,412 students — a record high — according to a Nov. 9 press release from the state’s Board of Governors for Higher Education. The figure includes a 488-student increase in URI’s enrollment over last year. Steve Maurano, the state commissioner for higher education, pointed to the recession as a major reason for high enrollment. “These trends are accelerated,” he said. “Many people look at it as a good time to return to school.” Students are searching for more economical ways to get an education, Maurano added. Not only are more in-state students enrolling, but many are first spending time at community college “to get a handle on what they want to study,” he said. But the institutions are also facing budget constraints and are leaving staff positions unfilled. After offering early retirement packages to employees, the institutions have left 330 (mostly staff) positions vacant — all of which they define as necessary — “in order to balance their respective budgets,” according to the press release. “The institutions are starting to stretch their capacity,” Maurano said. “They’re going to be at a breaking point very soon.” But as enrollment increases, financial aid has not kept up. “Students are getting hit at both ends,” Maurano said — tuition rose 9 to 10 percent across the three schools, but as the financial aid budget was divided among a larger student body, the average package per student has decreased. Still, Maurano said the state is committed to educating “as many Rhode Islanders as possible.” “I think it’s critical that everyone receives some postsecondary education or training,” he said. “ The days of someone being able to carve out a living with a high school education are gone.” —Goda Thangada
Higher taxes not a solution to budget woes, Carcieri says continued from page 5
are more difficult decisions to be made,” Kempe confirmed that the governor does not plan to meet that deadline. “The joint resolution is not statutory,” Kempe said. “There is no way to throw together a complete corrective plan in such short time.” In the statement, Carcieri said he plans to work on a budget plan with the legislature in the coming months and stressed that he does not support a tax increase. “We must avoid raising taxes to solve this problem,” he said in the statement. “This is not the time to ask Rhode Island families to pay even more of their hard-earned dollars to state government.” Kempe added that Rhode Islanders “need to tighten our belt” to cut
expenditures before considering a tax hike. A clear plan of action from the legislature will not be available until the General Assembly reconvenes in January. But the House Finance Committee announced last week it would hold a hearing Nov. 23 to further review the budget situation, according a Nov. 11 Providence Journal article. “State and local officials may wish for a rosier picture,” Carcieri said in the statement, “but as leaders, and stewards of our future, we have the very unpleasant but critical task of managing our way through what is the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.” By statute, the governor has until Jan. 21 to submit a supplemental appropriations act to the General Assembly, Kempe said.
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
w o r l d a n d n at i o n i n b r i e f
Obama brings broad agenda to meeting with China’s Hu President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, met officially for more than an hour Tuesday at China’s Great Hall of the People, and the U.S. president was expected to press the Chinese leader for possible new sanctions on Iran, a stepped-up Chinese role in Afghanistan and the relative strengths of the countries’ respective currencies. The two leaders were also trying to find agreement on some modest climate-change goals for the upcoming environmental summit in Copenhagen and on edging North Korea back to multilateral talks over its nuclear program. “I’m very happy to have talks with you,” Hu told Obama at the start of the meeting. “You have worked actively to promote this relationship.” Obama replied, “We believe strong dialogue is important not only for the U.S. and China, but for the rest of the world.” The two already met once over dinner Monday night, shortly after Obama arrived in the frigid Chinese capital from Shanghai. National security adviser James Jones described that meeting between as an “informal dinner discussion” in which the two leaders discussed “the evolution and histories of China and the United States.” Jones said the two also spoke at length about education, but he did not elaborate.
Panel Recommends Women
— Keith B. Richburg Washington Post
Panel recommends women receive fewer mammograms Women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year, an influential federal task force has concluded, challenging the use of one of the most common medical tests. In its first re-evaluation of breast cancer screening since 2002, the independent government-appointed panel recommended the changes, citing evidence that the potential harm to women having annual exams beginning at age 40 outweighs the benefit. Coming amid a highly charged national debate over health-care reform and simmering suspicions about the possibility of rationing medical services, the recommendations immediately became enveloped in controversy. — Rob Stein Washington Post
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World & Nation The Brown Daily Herald
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Page 7
Deep divisions still remain on health care legislation By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen The Washington Post
As the Senate prepares to take up legislation aimed at overhauling the nation’s health-care system, President Obama and the Democrats are still struggling to win the battle for public opinion. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Americans deeply divided over the proposals under consideration and majorities predicting higher costs ahead. But Republican opponents have done little better in rallying the public opposition to kill the reform effort. Americans continue to support key elements of the legislation, including a mandate that employers provide health insurance to their workers and access to a government-sponsored insurance plan for those people without insurance. Over the past few months, public opinion has solidified, leaving Obama and the Democrats with the political challenge of enacting one of the most ambitious pieces of domestic legislation in decades in the face of a nation split over the wisdom of doing so. In the new poll, 48 percent say they support the proposed changes; 49 percent are opposed. With the bill through the House, Senate Democrats are now looking for the votes to enact their version of the legislation and keep the reform effort moving forward. Whatever the outcome of the health-care debate, it will have a powerful influence in shaping the political climate for next year’s midterm elections. The House bill contains a highly controversial provision prohibiting abortion coverage for those insured under a new public insurance plan
as well as those who receive federal subsidies to purchase private insurance. In the poll, 61 percent say they support barring coverage for abortions for those receiving public subsidies, but if private funds were used to pay for abortion expenses, the numbers flipped. With segregated private money used to cover abortion procedures, 56 percent say insurance offered to those using government assistance should be able to include such coverage. The new poll provides ammunition for both advocates and opponents of reform. For opponents, a clear area of public concern centers on cost – 52 percent say an altered system would probably make their own care more expensive, and 56 percent see the overall cost of health care in the country going up as a result. Few see clear benefits in exchange for higher expenses. Rather, there has been a small but significant increase in the number (now 37 percent) who anticipate their care deteriorating under a revamped system, putting that number in line with opinion in July 1994, just before President Bill Clinton’s health-care reform efforts fizzled. Among those with insurance, three times as many continue to see worse rather than better coverage options ahead (39 to 13 percent), and fewer than half of those who lack insurance see better options under a changed system. Six in 10 see it as “very” or “somewhat” likely that many private insurers would be forced out of business by a government-sponsored insurance plan, a potential result that GOP leaders frequently warn about. But reform proponents have other findings to bolster their case.
Two-thirds of those surveyed support one of the basic tenets of the reform plan, a new requirement that all employers with payrolls of $500,000 or more provide health insurance coverage for their employees or face fines. As in previous polls, a majority supports a government-sponsored heath insurance plan to compete with private insurers, although the percentage supporting the general idea has slipped slightly over the past month to 53 percent. Support for the scheme jumps to 72 percent when the public plan is limited to those who lack access to coverage through an employer or the Medicare or Medicaid systems. While Americans overall are divided on reform legislation, the Democrats have made some progress among at least one key group. Support among senior citizens, while still broadly negative, is up 13 points since September to 44 percent. Seniors have also tilted back toward Obama when matched head to head with congressional Republicans on dealing with health-care reform, helping the president to a 13-point advantage over the GOP on this issue. Republicans appear to be hampered by a widespread perception that they have not offered clear choices: 61 percent of those polled say the GOP is “mainly criticizing” without presenting alternatives to Democratic proposals.
Looking toward next year’s midterm elections, 25 percent say they more apt to back a candidate who supports the proposed health-care changes; 29 percent are less likely to do so. More, 45 percent, say the vote will not make much of a difference. Independents are nearly twice as likely to be swayed away from rather than toward a candidate who supports the changes (31 percent to 17 percent). Beyond health care, Obama continues to garner broadly positive ratings from the public. His overall approval rating stands at 56 percent, holding steady in Post-ABC polls since the late summer. More, 61 percent, say they have an overall favorable impression of him, and a slim majority continues to see him as “about right” ideologically (four in 10 consider him “too liberal.”) The president, who is on a 10-day visit to Asia, gets his top mark on handling international affairs, and also picks up majority approval on dealing with the threat of terrorism. But Americans are more divided over his performance on other key issues, with nearly even splits in satisfaction with his work on health care, the economy and the situation in Afghanistan. On each of these three issues, intensity runs against the president, with significantly higher numbers expressing “strong” disapproval as strident approval. Obama receives generally negative reviews on his handling of the federal budget defi-
cit, with 53 percent disapproving of his actions on that front. Obama continues to be lifted by weakness in the opposition. In addition to his double-digit lead over congressional Republicans on health care, the president has a 15-point advantage on handling the nation’s still-struggling economy. More broadly, Democrats continue to have the edge as the party more trusted to deal with the country’s main problems over the next few years and when it comes to being more empathetic and more in tune with people’s values. But there are also evident signs of an anti-incumbent mood in the new survey, which would disproportionately hurt the majority Democrats next fall should they hold. Most see the countr y as headed pretty seriously off on the wrong track and half of all Americans say they are inclined to look around for someone new to support for Congress; just 38 percent are inclined to re-elect their member of Congress. These numbers are similar to those from November 1993, one year before Republicans took back control of the House and Senate and close to those from May 2006, six months before Democrats re-captured the Congress. The poll was conducted Nov. 12-15 by conventional and cellular telephone among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
Tuesday, november 17, 2009
w orld &n ation
Bernanke offers gloomy job outlook, help for dollar By Neil Irwin and Ylan Mui The Washington Post
Federal Reser ve Chairman Ben Bernanke waded Monday into the debate among policy-makers over the vigor of the economic recovery, offering a sobering view of what lies ahead in his most detailed comments on the economy in months. Bernanke’s focus on the weak job market and his opinion that inflation will remain subdued show that he is looking to keep the Fed focused on supporting growth for quite a while longer by leaving interest rates at rock-bottom levels. Financial markets may be soaring and the economy expanding. But, he said, “the best thing we can say about the labor market right now is that it may be getting worse more slowly.” Speaking at the Economic Club of New York, Bernanke also offered rare remarks about the value of the U.S. currency, saying the Fed’s policies will “help ensure that the dollar is strong.” Stepping into an arena usually reserved for Treasury secretaries, he signaled that the central bank is paying close attention to the dollar’s rapid decline and lent some of his own credibility to Obama administration efforts to maintain confidence in the dollar on international markets.
Bernanke’s remarks about the dollar came one day after China’s top bank regulator criticized the Fed’s handling of monetary policy, blaming the weak dollar and low interest rates for creating a global bubble in asset prices. The U.S.-China economic relationship is under particular scrutiny this week as President Obama visits Beijing. China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. government debt and thus would be exposed to massive losses if the dollar were to plummet. The overriding takeaway from his speech, however, was that the Fed should continue aggressive efforts to stimulate economic activity. “Continued growth next year is likely,” Bernanke said. But he added, “Some important headwinds – in particular, constrained bank lending and a weak job market – likely will prevent the expansion from being as robust as we would hope.” In the past week, several other Fed officials have given their views of the economic outlook, voicing a range of concerns. Some view the economy as fundamentally weak and see little reason to fear rising prices as long as the jobless rate is high. But others have argued the Fed should soon reverse direction,
raising interest rates before there is much improvement in economic conditions, lest there be a burst of inflation. Bernanke’s comments position him in the center. He agrees with those who see a weak recovery and think inflation is unlikely to be an immediate threat. Bernanke, however, did give a nod to concerns about rising prices in the future, noting that expectations of inflation can “be early warnings of actual inflation” and “must be monitored carefully.” “He touched a lot of bases and acknowledged a lot of concerns but didn’t really sway from the central view that there will be moderate growth and subdued inflation,” said Peter Hooper, chief economist for Deutsche Bank Securities. The jobless rate rose to 10.2 percent in October and is widely forecast to keep edging upward. Indeed, as Bernanke said Monday, “the unemployment rate will decline only slowly if economic growth remains moderate, as I expect.” Bernanke emphasized the human toll of the continued weak job market, noting the astronomical unemployment rates among some subsets of the labor force, such as the 19 percent jobless rate among 16-to-24-year-olds. This widespread unemployment among young adults
could have long-lasting implications, he said, as they lose out on work experience and on-the-job training. In addressing the dollar, Bernanke said the recent decline is partly due to investors who had poured money into the safety of U.S. currency during the depths of the financial crisis and are now more comfortable investing elsewhere. The dollar is down 16 percent against a basket of other major currencies since March 5. That decline has helped make U.S. exports more competitive but has raised fears that what has been an orderly decline could become a rout. “We are attentive to the implications of changes in the value of the dollar and will continue to formulate policy to guard against risks to our dual mandate to foster both maximum employment and price stability,” Bernanke said. He said that Fed policy will help ensure that the dollar is strong and a “source of global financial stability.” Also Monday, in a sign that the economic expansion is continuing this fall, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales in October grew 1.4 percent compared with the previous month, driven by a jump in auto sales. Car sales had spiked over the summer because of the govern-
ment’s popular “cash for clunkers” program, which gave consumers with certain trade-ins a credit of up to $4,500 toward the purchase of a new, fuel-efficient vehicle. But sales slumped in September after the stimulus ended. Analysts said sales were returning to normal in October. General merchandise and department stores also got a lift last month, rising 0.8 percent. Restaurants had a 1.2 percent rise, while health-care stores’ sales were up 0.5 percent. But several long-suffering categories continued to experience sales declines. Electronics stores fell 0.6 percent, furniture retailers were down 0.8 percent, and building materials dropped 2.4 percent. Still, the overall increase was higher than anticipated, which some analysts interpreted as a hopeful sign. “Despite the consumer’s gloomy mood, spending is improving,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight. Two data releases on Tuesday will give new insights into growth and inflation in October. The Fed’s industrial production data are forecast to show a continued expansion, while the producer price index is expected to show an uptick in wholesale prices, due mostly to higher energy costs.
THE BROWN DAILY HERALD
Tuesday, november 17, 2009
w orld &n ation
Ft. Hood has been leader in soldier well-being by Peter Slevin The Washington Post
Families from Georgia to California buried their Fort Hood dead over the weekend, but here on the nation’s largest military installation, the pace of operations did not slow. Soldiers by the hundred bid tearful farewells and shipped out to war as others returned to joyous homecomings. For those who made it back, the Nov. 5 attack that made Fort Hood a symbol of the collateral damage of two faraway conflicts is also reminder of the battle the Army post has been waging against the mental demons unleashed by combat. Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the killings, was a recent arrival to a mental health corps that had won recent plaudits from the Pentagon’s highest echelons for its innovative thinking about soldier health. Yet the violence he allegedly unleashed only weeks before his own deployment underscores the depths of the military’s challenges and the limits of its most well-intentioned reach. More than 75 people based at Fort Hood have committed suicide since the Iraq war began in March 2003, including 10 this year, one of the highest rates in the Army. Divorce, depression and violence are increasingly common among the thousands of soldiers who cycle through here, officials say. Yet spaces exist for only a fraction of the soldiers who need help, officials say. For a soldier not considered in urgent psychiatric distress, it takes three to five weeks to begin counseling sessions, a senior staff psychiatrist reported. Resistance to seeking treatment can be fierce in a world where steeled emotions are typically considered a sign of strength. To heal the corps, Fort Hood commanders are moving beyond standard commands that soldiers simply suck it up. Sending a message that to hurt is human, to seek help divine, they hope to draw returning warriors into networks of support. It is too early to know if the programs will succeed. For example, on the vast Army post cloaked in drab, Fort Hood’s new Spiritual Fitness Center offers color. Inside, sunlight filters through stained glass of lavender and blue. Candles are surrounded in dishes of polished stones and George Winston piano solos flow from speakers above. “We like to call this place ‘listening and love,’” Lt. Col. Ira Houck, a chaplain, explained from deep in an overstuffed armchair, one week the shootings left 13 people dead and dozens wounded. If the concept sounds New Age, it is. The converted chapel in the heart of the newly christened Resiliency Campus offers a refuge for broken and distressed soldiers. Yet Sgt. Matthew Spencer, a combat veteran who works as a greeter at the center, laughs when he says he and his buddies would never seek help here. “I am from the infantry. We don’t
come to places like this,” Spencer, 24, said above the strains of an Ennio Morricone composition. “Why don’t we come? We’ve got each other.” “That’s the battle right there,” said David Rudd, a former Fort Hood psychologist who is studying post-combat stress for the Defense Department. He cites the military’s macho culture as one reason. Within sight of where President Obama led a memorial service for the Nov. 5 victims, psychiatrist Adam Borah, who runs the Resilience and Restoration Center, sees firsthand the difficulty in making warriors whole. “There are issues with stigma. There are issues with feeling judged. There are issues with feeling that you are somehow less of a person if you require help,” Borah said. One of his clinics renders immediate care to soldiers who report they are considering hurting themselves or others. He said a soldier will be seen within 45 minutes of arrival. A prime worry for the Army is the upward trend in suicides, Borah said. In the first 10 months of the year, 133 active-duty soldiers were reported to have committed suicide, nearly as many as all of 2008. Fort Hood and other posts distribute “suicide prevention cards” with instructions about talking with friends who may have suicidal inclinations. The acronym is “ACE,” for “ask your buddy, care for your buddy, escort your buddy.” Not since Vietnam have U.S. soldiers seen so many years of sustained combat. At Fort Hood at any given time, one-third of the roughly 53,000 soldiers are deployed, onethird are returning from war and one third are preparing to go. Recent research suggests that warriors’ repeated exposure to trauma is more likely to weaken a soldier than to build up mental immunity. “This is not a practice-makesperfect situation,” Borah said, describing wartime trauma. “This is a situation where with every successive event, a little bit more of our resiliency is utilized.” To address the fallout of war for active-duty soldiers, with the goal of returning them to the fight, Fort Hood last year established the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program, modeled on a six-month approach at Fort Bliss, Texas. Here, soldiers devote three weeks to what Borah calls “traditional and nontraditional therapies.” That means options from oneon-one counseling, group therapy and medication to yoga, acupuncture, massage and Japanese Reiki. The results are being evaluated as they emerge. Three graduates of the program, which treats a dozen soldiers at a time, are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. He said Fort Hood could not meet the post’s need for professional help without making referrals to civilian counselors outside the gates. “There is no question that our demand for services is greater than our ability to supply them on Fort
Melina Mara / Washington Post
At Fort Hood, Tex., concern over the effects of combat stress led to the building of the resiliency campus, which offers features encompassing mental, physical and spiritual health. Above, new age music plays for a soldier in the spiritual center.
Hood,” Borah said. Over at the Resiliency Campus, Col. William Rabena oversees completion of a “reflection pond” complete with a pair of small, arching wooden footbridges and babbling water. “There’s no blueprint for building a Resiliency Campus. Whatever makes sense,” said Rabena, a high-
intensity former field artillery battalion commander whose neighbors tease that “Mr. Non-Touchy-Feely” has been given a surprising mission. His response: “I know, I know.” Rabena is very much onboard, describing the mission as a “synergy of mind, body and spirit.” The Spiritual Fitness Center’s focus, he said, is “an
individual’s self-discovery.” “We’d like to think this is something that could help anybody out. We want it make it so people want to come,” he said. To that end, he is recruiting massage and aromatherapy specialists and is converting a racquetball court into a Wii video-game arena. A putting green is coming.
Editorial & Letters The Brown Daily Herald
Page 10 | Tuesday, November 17, 2009
l e t t e r to t h e e d i to r
Atheist perspective welcome in multi-faith discussion To the Editor: We would like to respond to Michael Fitzpatrick’s column highlighting the New York City subway campaign stimulating conversation around atheism (“Good without God,” Nov. 10). As members of the Multi-Faith Council, we were particularly compelled by Fitzpatrick’s sincere hope that “religious groups take advantage of the ad campaign to foster friendly discussion between atheists and theists.” We would like not only to assert that we are certainly interested in fostering just this kind of discussion, but also to explain how we see atheist perspectives as vital in the larger context of building religious pluralism. We define religious pluralism as three things: first, building respect for religious or spiritual identity (including atheistic beliefs); second, building mutually enriching relationships among people of different faith backgrounds; and third, common action for the common good. This phenomenon is largely not theological, but rather sociological. It is about challenging the narrative of interreligious conflict around the world by creating a counter-narrative of cooperation for the betterment of society. There is much work to be done building religious pluralism at Brown. While discussions of “diversity” are quite common, engagement with re-
ligious identity in public discourse is notably absent. Students have felt misunderstood as practicing Catholics, Jews observing high holidays, or atheists (“The secret life of Catholics at Brown,” Sept. 17; “Not just a day off,” Sept. 25; “The secret life of atheists at Brown,” Sept. 24). As an institution that values diversity and aims to empower students to bring their individual identities to the table, we are missing out on a unique opportunity to truly ask each other and ourselves, “Who are we?” and “What do we believe?” Whether we see ourselves as “good without god,” or “good due to god,” or anywhere in between, we are all searching to define that “good” and act as we feel compelled to do good in the world. There is no doubt that we have much to learn from one another. To begin envisioning what a Brown community uniting the religious and atheistic should look like, we hope to host an open conversation with Brown Freethought and others. We hope this forum provides a starting point for continued conversation and engagement. Rachel Cohn ’10, Brown Hillel Chelsea Waite ’11, Brown Unitarian Universalist Group Nate Johnson ’10, Brown Christian Fellowship Nov. 15
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F ranny choi
e d i to r i a l
The departed Gov. Donald Carcieri ’65 made prodigious use of his veto powers last week. Carcieri nixed more than two dozen of the 243 bills that the General Assembly passed during the recent special session. Some of these vetoes were reasonable, some were questionable and a few were downright wrong. Particularly blameworthy were Carcieri’s attempts to delay important reforms of state policy on probation violations, domestic partnership benefits and the replacement of U.S. senators. Under existing state law, convicts released on probation can be sent back to prison to serve the rest of their sentence if they are charged with a parole violation — even if a jury finds them not guilty or the charges are dropped or dismissed. The Assembly passed a bill that would mandate the release of convicts imprisoned on parole violations for which they were subsequently acquitted, unless they had already been charged with a new offense. This is an eminently sound measure that will curb an ongoing injustice, increase Rhode Islanders’ respect for the law and reduce the strain on the prison system during a time of staggering state budget deficits. The chief reason that some oppose the bill is that it may prompt prosecutors to seek unduly long sentences, but this rings hollow given the low likelihood of the mandatory re-imprisonment provision applying to a given suspended sentence. Another hard-hearted and wrong-headed Carcieri veto denied domestic partners the right to claim the remains of their deceased loved ones and make their funeral arrangements. Though current state law does not have a unitary definition of domestic partnership, the legislation the governor vetoed would use the solid standard of “an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship” existing for at least a year prior to the death of the departed. Carcieri inadvertently revealed that his decision amounted to little more
than callous political grandstanding when he claimed that the bill represents “the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage” and demanded that the Assembly put domestic partnerships on the ballot instead. In reality, the bill is narrowly tailored to mitigate the grief of unmarried partners, gay and straight, and preserve them from pointless bureaucratic hurdles placed in their way at the worst possible time. Playing politics with this measure is nothing short of despicable. The third ill-advised veto wasn’t as obviously reprehensible, but it constituted a disservice to the people of Rhode Island nonetheless. Carcieri acted to preserve the power of his office by rejecting a bill that would have stripped the governor of the ability to fill unexpected vacancies in the U.S. Senate. Under the proposed legislation, senators would be replaced by special elections or a question on the regular ballot, depending on the timing of the vacancy. The addition of emergency provisions would significantly improve the bill, but even in its current form, it would help to restore Rhode Islanders’ trust in their government — and more importantly, their control over it — in the wake of the Blagojevich scandal and the context of this state’s history of public corruption. The good news is that all three bills were widely supported in the Assembly and are very likely to receive the three-fifths vote from each chamber needed to override the vetoes once the legislature reconvenes in January. Nonetheless, the delay in the enactment of these positive reforms could have serious consequences for Rhode Islanders, individually and generally. Carcieri has added three regrettable items to his legacy. Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board. Send comments to email@example.com.
correction An article in Thursday’s paper (“Simmons, Reed honor Veterans Day on campus,” Nov. 12) incorrectly identified Chaney Harrison ’11 as an Army veteran. Harrison is in fact an Air Force pararescue veteran. C O R R E C T I O N S P olicy The Brown Daily Herald is committed to providing the Brown University community with the most accurate information possible. Corrections may be submitted up to seven calendar days after publication. C ommentary P O L I C Y The editorial is the majority opinion of the editorial page board of The Brown Daily Herald. The editorial viewpoint does not necessarily reflect the views of The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. Columns, letters and comics reflect the opinions of their authors only. L etters to the E ditor P olicy Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a telephone number with all letters. The Herald reserves the right to edit all letters for length and clarity and cannot assure the publication of any letter. Please limit letters to 250 words. Under special circumstances writers may request anonymity, but no letter will be printed if the author’s identity is unknown to the editors. Announcements of events will not be printed. advertising P olicy The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. reserves the right to accept or decline any advertisement at its discretion.
Opinions The Brown Daily Herald
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Page 11
Who deserves to go to college? BY IVY CHANG Opinions Columnist I spotted the headline, “Are Too Many Students Going to College?” while browsing the New York Times online and, for a second, thought that I’d accidentally clicked on the Onion’s site instead. Despite my initial reaction, I’ll admit that the anti-college stance intrigued me. We’re constantly being reminded that the economic forecast is grim, and that even our Ivy League degrees are not reliable flotation devices for weathering the storm. The article quotes several academics who debated the merits of going to college. Richard Vedder, a college professor and director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, notes that graduating students out-number available degree-requiring jobs, causing many to take positions for which they are overqualified. Bryan Caplan, another professor, views college as a “wasteful status contest” that “deprives the economy” of output from students who could be working instead, considering all the infrastructure-rebuilding jobs that the Obama administration is making available. I don’t agree with the viewpoint of college as purely utilitarian, as I’ve always hated talk about the “hardest” majors — usually referring to the sciences — being more useful and intellectual than “easier” ones. But these arguments are valid in attacking the belief that a college education is the only defense against unemployment and the only guarantee of future wealth. Merely focusing on in-
creasing rates of college attendance will not improve the job market. The assumption of a correlation between college and success results in disappointment and resentment, aptly demonstrated by the infamous case of the Monroe College grad who is suing her school for failing to secure her “full-time job placement” after graduation. Attending college is not a requirement for success and happiness later in life. Students should not be pressured to attend four-year
es that underachieving students be warned of their likelihood of failure and steered away from pursing a degree. Charles Murray, a political scientist, cites IQ scores and judges some students too stupid to merit higher education. He advises them to channel their energies elsewhere to be more useful to society. Huxley would term them Deltas and Epsilons, perhaps. These pundits all seem relatively well-educated. It’s easy for them to wax existential
Numbers and letters alone cannot reveal a person’s affinity for a college education. institutions, as there is nothing “wrong” with attending trade schools or choosing other paths, according to the article. I was nodding in agreement until it came time for them to discuss exactly who they thought was “fit” for a college education. The opinions supported a status quo benefitting the already privileged. In the 1970s, there were concerns that an overemphasis on bachelor of arts degrees favored upper class students with access to educational resources, while leaving lower class students behind. Troublingly, most of today’s critics believe that this is the way it should be — that students with poor grades who attend public institutions are a potential “waste of human and financial resources.” Marty Nemko, a career counselor, advis-
about the true value of a college education and bemoan the difficulties of finding a “reliable plumber” with so many unfit students wasting their time in school. For these privileged individuals, a college education can amount to nothing but four years of learning skills inapplicable to real life. They cannot understand that education is an equalizer for marginalized groups, a way to transcend society’s imposed limits. It is not their right to decide the value of a college education for other people. Numbers and letters alone cannot reveal a person’s affinity for a college education. The recent declines in test scores nationwide are probably better indicators of our poor educational infrastructure than of the intelligence of the students.
Students from disadvantaged backgrounds often end up with similarly unequal education opportunities. They aren’t necessarily stupider than their more accomplished peers. They’re often well aware of what obstacles they face. A professor of a developmental English class observes that they are “conditioned from birth to accept their place.” I’m sure that Nemko’s well-meaning but ignorant idea of reminding such students of their likelihood for failure would not help matters much, to say the least. The emphasis on individual responsibility in determining the outcome of one’s life cannot be applied in all cases. A student from a low-income family living in the slums of an overcrowded neighborhood has reasons for poor educational performance that a financially comfortable, well-educated college professor or career advisor could never fully understand. With many public colleges already greatly incapacitated by funding cuts, the mere notion that college is unnecessary, especially for public school students, could lead to education being even less of a priority. The concern about “wasting” funds on the “undeserving” mirrors the fears that nearly incapacitated — and, mind you, still ended up botching — health-care reform. It’s easy for those in power to blame the underprivileged, rather than admit that there is something wrong with the system as a whole.
Ivy Chang ’10 is a human biology concentrator from Los Angeles. She can be reached at email@example.com.
It’s my car and I’ll text if I want to BY SEAN QUIGLEY Opinions Columnist On several occasions this past summer, as I was making the trip from my internship office in Princeton to my family’s house in Rhode Island, pride for my state consumed me. I was not sure about the laws in New Jersey or New York, but I was certain that Connecticut had made texting while driving illegal, and that my state had not. And as Connecticut was the longest part of the trip, I had much time to consider what I was being forced not to do, as well as how the stench of unadulterated state power made me feel. Crushed, I now write that my state has joined the ranks of the authoritarian by also prohibiting the use of a data-transmission device (e.g., a cellular phone) for the sending, reading or writing of text messages while driving. Rhode Island has been a pretty sad place for liberty for generations, but still, it should bring a tear every time that the barbarians in the General Assembly further empower the avaricious badges with more ways to pull over drivers (especially the young). There are literally so many reasons to oppose this sort of slavish legislation that I can only touch upon a few. First, and perhaps most relevant for a legislative body that should be concerned with precedent and historical liberties, this law seems to violate the common-law right to travel — a right jealously guarded by the Anglo-Saxons even before the Magna Carta.
Time and time again, the English courts before our rebellion and the American courts after it affirmed the right to travel as so fundamental that it could only be abridged for a free man on the basis of its presenting a direct threat to public health, safety or morals. Even then, there had to be a specific reason, with specific facts supporting it, and the behavior in question had to lead directly to the undesirable harm. I repeat: The behavior in question had to lead directly to harm. The mere possibility of harm is not enough. Otherwise, should we not outlaw driving while drowsy, while
misses the point. A person who crashes a car because he was distracted by texting — which is not most, considering the study said that 23 percent of drivers, 50 percent of those aged 1629, engage in this habit — should be, and is under existing law, culpable for the crash. Whatever the driver was doing or whoever the driver is, what matters is that he crashed a car. All that new legislation does is manufacture a crisis and inject the law into one more aspect of life. Am I the only one who smells a rat, in the form of a real-world Minority Report? The
It should bring a tear every time that the barbarians in the General Assembly further empower the avaricious badges with more ways to pull drivers over (especially the young.) talking, while hung over or, if relying on evidence about spatial abilities, while female? If the state should police our preferences regarding how others exercise their right to travel, I see no valid reason not to do so. To be fair, the legislators, besides relying on un-empirical, anecdotal evidence, did invoke a study from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, which reported that “2,600 people are killed each year from driver distraction incidents stemming from cell phone use.” However, legally, this completely
use of the state’s police powers should not be exercised unless a direct harm has already taken place, or is imminent from the very nature of a given act. Second, this sort of legislation further erodes the proper understanding of the common law principle that a man’s home, or car, is his castle. That is, it perverts a proper understanding of what constitutes the private sphere. That principle, of course, is routinely violated elsewhere — we need only look to
mandatory seat-belt laws and the shockingly inane BAC level of .08. Yet if we are to defend seriously, as opposed to fashionably, the right of property, we must also defend the right to use that property in ways we may find unwise. We used to believe that property was sacred, that a man could be free to live as he saw fit, so long as his actions did not directly harm another or constitute a direct threat to public health, safety or morals. But I guess the pursuit of utopia through legislation has made liberal life, with people who make choices different from our own, a thing of the past. People, after all, are unpredictable; legislated force is not. Lastly, a person’s character and sturdiness are debauched when the state takes on such an intrusive, salvific role. Whether the debate concerns health care, old-age “insurance,” temperate living or safety on the roads, the modern solution is tragically to legislate and coerce. If you think that texting while driving is destructive or at least fraught with undue peril, then persuade, convince, urge. But do not prostitute out your responsibility to our pathetic political class and its tax-gobbling boots on the ground. You have no right to be made safe, or to force others to comply with the erratic demands arising from your fears. So if you insist on being a child, please do it privately.
Sean Quigley ’10 swears that he is not a libertarian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today The Brown Daily Herald
Q&A with the Times’ David Rohde
‘Fashion on budget’ comes to Angell Street
to m o r r o w
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009
t h e n e w s i n i m ag e s
7 c a l e n da r
Today, november 17
wednesday, november 18
4 pm — Brown University Community Council Meeting, Brown Hillel
5:30 PM — A Conversation with Italian Journalist Beppe Severgnini, Smith-Buonanno 106
7 pm — A Change of Heart: Queer South Asian Performance Poetry, List 120
Cabernet Voltaire | Abe Pressman
8 pm — Keynote Address by Teach For America CEO and Founder Wendy Kopp, Salomon 101
menu Sharpe Refectory
Verney-Woolley Dining Hall
Lunch — Grilled Tuna Sandwich with Cheese, Vegan Sloppy Joe’s, Spinach and Feta Pie
Lunch — Shaved Steak Sandwich, Spinach Strudel, Mandarin Blend Vegetables
Dinner — Sesame Chicken Strips with Mustard Sauce, Vegan Vegetable Saute, Sticky Rice with Edamame Beans
Dinner — Roast Pork Ouvert, Pastito, Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream
Dot Comic | Eshan Mitra and Brendan Hainline
RELEASE DATE– Tuesday, November 17, 2009
c r o sDaily s w oCrossword rd Los Angeles Times Puzzle Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
ACROSS 1 Sirs’ counterparts 6 “Fernando” singers 10 Endure 14 Have __ on one’s shoulder 15 Defeat soundly 16 Sailor’s patron saint 17 Another name for Farsi 18 *Undeveloped home site 20 Slangy “Don’t lose any sleep over it” 22 Overdo it on stage 23 W. Hemisphere gp. formed to defend against communism 24 Made changes to 26 *1977 Triple Crown winner 31 Tell-all news story 32 One just hanging out 37 Antiquing substance 38 Heartache 39 Pouty expression 40 Evade 43 A __: valid independent of experience, in logic 45 *2,240-pound unit 47 Handyman’s nickname 51 Poetic dusk 52 Windy City airport 53 At risk 58 *Huck Finn conveyance 61 Neighbor of Florida’s St. Petersburg 62 Shortly, to Shakespeare 63 Vaulted church part 64 Writer Nin 65 Wisdom of the elders 66 Cattle rancher’s tool 67 The answer to each starred clue ends in a big one
36 Harness lead 50 “I’ll see you in my DOWN 1 Everystreet 38 Cried dreams” girl of 2 Prefix with bat or 41 Philly cager song phobia 53 Should that be 42 1979 meltdown 3 Obsessed site, briefly the case fictional whaler 43 Like the Piper’s 54 When repeated, 4 Revealing skirt clothes Mork’s sign-off 5 Urn taps 44 Drank on credit 55 FBI agent 6 Give counsel to 46 Like many a tux 56 Grand in scope 7 Highlands 47 Story’s lesson 57 Impulsive hillside 48 Horned safari 59 Knock 8 61-Across NFLer beast 60 Month after 9 Lawyers’ org. 49 Party gift Mar. 10 “Here, I’ll do that” 11 “It’s __ nothing!” ANSWER TO PREVIOUS PUZZLE: 12 Hit, biblical-style 13 Schlepped 19 Meas. of a package’s contents 21 It’s not quite a hurricane 24 Medicinal plant 25 Luau memento 26 Aegean and Bering 27 Military vet 28 Imitated 29 Ripped 30 Hillside 33 Jannings of old films 34 Underlying cause 35 Continental 11/17/09 email@example.com currency
Fruitopia | Andy Kim
Hippomaniac | Mat Becker
STW | Jingtao Huang
By Bruce Venzke (c)2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
Published on Nov 17, 2009