Tag Archive: Politics

  1. Wikipedia to Shut Down! For Good Reasons!

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    If you were planning to get a head start on that research paper tomorrow, think again. I’m afraid I have some startling news: Wikipedia is going to shut down on Wednesday. …I know.

    After you have recovered from the initial shock of that statement, you may ask why Wikipedia would do such a thing. The answer is that they are boycotting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). SOPA is a bill that has been criticized by civil rights groups, Nancy Pelosi, Justin Bieber, Ron Paul, and numerous others. On January 14, President Obama announced that the White House would not support SOPA; subsequently, the vote regarding it was canceled. And tomorrow, in what could truly be the most noticed move of all, Wikipedia will be down, replaced instead by a page advising people to call Congress and complain about SOPA.

    At this point, you are no doubt asking, “So? Who cares about an anti-piracy bill? What is all the commotion about? And don’t we want to prevent online piracy, while at the same time protecting intellectual property?” Absolutely. But SOPA isn’t the way to do it.

    SOPA is a nightmare for supporters of free speech. It states that a website is guilty of facilitating theft (and therefore liable to face serious penalties) if it “enables or facilitates” potential infringement. This overbroad definition would seem to cover pretty much any website on the Internet. Certainly, Google could be included. SOPA would also allow copyright holders to direct financial institutions (such as Visa or Mastercard) to cut off access to a particular website simply through an allegation of infringement — or aiding infringement, under the vague definition. And the government would have the power to black-list websites.

    Many websites (including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Twitter) have pointed out that SOPA could also lead to censorship online, because it mandates that Internet intermediaries (such as Facebook) censor countless websites. SOPA could also result in the closure of numerous anonymous platforms for whistle-blowing, such as ones that expose human rights violations. Finally, SOPA’s regulations and vague definitions will certainly stifle creativity for online startups.

    SOPA is a disgrace (as is PIPA), because it is based on the fallacy that piracy can be stopped if we call everything piracy. It assumes that, by limiting free speech, we can stop the theft of free speech. And it tries to curb piracy by creating harsher punishments for vaguer crimes. No inadvertent pirate should ever be made to walk the plank.

    Internet piracy is real and dangerous. However, SOPA is even more dangerous. So tomorrow, go to Wikipedia, shed a tear that it is temporarily unavailable, and then follow its instructions — call Congress to tell them that SOPA is bad news.

  2. Malloy, Merrill roll out election reforms

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    Whether you want to vote for Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or even President Barack Obama come November, it could all be a lot easier, thanks to legislation introduced this week by Gov. Dannel Malloy and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

    Malloy and Merrill held a press conference Monday to announce their support for various proposals to increase voter registration, CT Mirror reported. At the conference, Merrill announced she will prepare a package of legislation that will allow voters to register online and on Election Day. The legislation, she said, will expand use of absentee ballots and increase penalties for voter harassment or intimidation.

    “However complex the reasons may be — and they are — we must do something to reverse those numbers and increase voter participation,” Merrill said. “If I am able to do one thing in my time as secretary of the state, that would be it.”

    Over 30 percent of eligible Connecticut voters are unregistered, and only 30 percent of registered voters turned out in last fall’s statewide municipal elections, CT Mirror reported. But as state officials attempt to improve access to voting, many states nationwide have considered laws that make ballot access much more difficult.

    At least one part of the legislation package — same-day voter registration — has already proven controversia. GOP state chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. said his party will oppose it.

    “While I commend an effort to increase voter participation, instituting same day voter registration is simply not the answer,” Labriola said. “This is clearly an effort by the administration to keep themselves in power by making the voter rolls vulnerable and reducing ballot security.”

    But Merrill disagreed, and said the proposed legislation is only a way to increase participation in elections.

    “We must, of course, maintain the security and integrity of our elections, but never at the expense of disenfranchising a voter,” she said.

  3. Knowles ’12 follows Huntsman’s lead to Romney

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    Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman announced Monday that he was dropping out of the race and endorsing rival Mitt Romney for the nomination.

    Yale College Republicans President Michael Knowles ’12, a leading Yale conservative who served as Huntsman’s National Youth Co-Chair, followed his candidate’s lead. Knowles said that after spending a year and a half searching for possible alternative candidates to the former Massachusetts governor — including lobbying for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to join the race — he will finally accept Romney as the GOP nominee. Knowles said he will will endorse the candidate tomorrow in a piece for the Daily Caller, calling him “unstoppable.”

    Huntsman called former Bain Capital CEO Romney the Republican’s best shot at defeating President Obama in November’s election. While he has in the past called Romney a “panderer-in-chief,” Huntsman said the two men shared the same drive to restore “bold and principled leadership” to Washington D.C.

  4. YLS professor weighs in on recess appointments

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    At least one Yale Law professor is upset over President Barack Obama’s recess appointments, though perhaps for reasons different than congressional Republicans.

    Sterling Professor Bruce Ackerman LAW ’67, an expert on constitutional law, took to the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday to discuss the president’s controversial decision to make several high-profile appointments during the recess of the United States Senate, effectively bypassing the traditional congressional approval process.

    Such a decision normally requires constitutional backing from the Justice Department, Ackerman argued, but Obama made the decision based on an unpublished constitutional defense written by White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmier. Ackerman said he did not necessarily think Obama’s decision to go ahead with the appointments was unconstitutional — he just wants to understand exactly what logic was governing Obama’s thinking, and accordingly is demanding that Ruemmier publish her opinion.

    “It is hardly enough for him to inform the Senate that Ms. Ruemmler has given the go-ahead,” Ackerman wrote. “At the very least, he should provide his counsel’s legal opinion explaining why he has the constitutional authority to second-guess the Senate on whether it is in recess.”

    Ackerman’s piece has racked up over 80 comments on the Journal’s website.

  5. Connecticut may allow bear hunting lottery

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    The state of Connecticut is not afraid to allow residents to go on a bear hunt.

    With nearly 3,000 bear sightings in the past year, the state of Connecticut is deciding whether to implement a hunting lottery, used in states such as Maine, the Hartford Courant reported Tuesday. The proposal for the lottery, which is being reviewed this week, would allow hunters to pay a fee to enter a lottery for a permit to kill a bear. It aims to reduce the number of bears and profit the state.

    The proposal faces opposition from animal rights activists. Its opponents claim a hunting lottery would make Connecticut devolve into a “wild west.”

    “It’s definitely a bloody way to make money,” said Nancy Rice, the outreach coordinator for Darien-based Friends of Animals. A more effective route, activists say, would be to eliminate open food sources that attract bears.

    Bears have spread south into Connecticut, leading to an increase in sightings. The current bear population, somewhere between 500 and 1000, is expected to double every five to seven years. We can only hope the bears don’t make it down to East Rock, for then where would we picnic?

  6. Soundbites: Larry Summers edition

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    The Yale Political Union hosted Lawrence Summers, former Harvard president, Treasury Secretary and director of the National Economic Council for a debate on economics titled “RESOLVED: The U.S and world economies need more Keynesian thinking.” Below are some of Summers’ more quotable moments:

    Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor to speak to the political union of the nation’s second best university.

    John Kennedy said man’s problems were made by man, and that it follows that they can be solved by man. No one knows how to find a cure for cancer, find peace in the Middle East, find a formula for controlling greenhouse emissions or what to do about rising inequality. These are all very deep and hard problems. But does anybody think that we cannot find ways to spend money and put people back to work in the U.S.?

    Are people quitting jobs? No. People are staying in jobs at record rates, because they are having trouble moving elsewhere. What about job vacancies? They’re at record lows. That’s because we live in a country that has too little demand. Some people think this has to do with workers being lazy or being not properly motivated. But factories do not have psychological problems that cause them to want to be empty: they are sitting empty because there is no demand.

    If we grow just 1 percent slower for the next 10 years, that adds 3 trillion dollars to the debt in 2020. That’s why there’s no more important problem facing this country than getting this economy growing again.

    How many people have been to JFK? How many people are proud of the Kennedy airport as the gateway to America’s greatest city? Probably a member of the Tory party. Most who look at Kennedy airport say, “we can do better.”

    In general, the U.S. would be well-served by more open immigration policies, especially in regards to skilled immigrants. I think that’s morally right and economically smart, and our country did a number of short-sighted things in the wake of 9/11.

  7. World Fellow awaits release as Russian protests continue

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    As the largest protest since the fall of the Soviet Union erupted in Moscow, political activist, renowned blogger and Yale World Fellow Alexei Navalny sat in a jail cell, unable to see the whirlwind of political activity that now surrounds him.

    Navalny was arrested for obstructing traffic during a protest on Dec. 5 and sentenced to 15 days in jail, the longest possible sentence for the crime. Since then, he has become the face of Russian protests accusing United Russia, the incumbent party of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, of rigging elections.

    Six days after Navalny’s incarceration, 50,000 peaceful protesters marched in Russia, many carrying signs with Navalny’s popular slogan calling United Russia “the party of crooks and thieves.” Though only 7 percent of Russians recognize Navalny, two-thirds of Russians now recognize his slogan, according to the Economist.

    A letter Navalny wrote from his jail cell was published on his website and read to the crowd at the protest. [See a translated version here.]

    “It’s impossible to beat and arrest hundreds of thousands, millions,” the letter read. “We are not cattle or slaves. We have voices and votes, and we have the power to uphold them.”

    In an interview from his jail cell, Navalny told the Russian newspaper the New Times that he was happy to see such large protests, but added that there was still work to be done.

    “I am very grateful to those people who come to picket with slogans like ‘Free Navalny,’ ‘Free Yashin,’ but these slogans have to be changed,” Navalny said. “’Freedom for all political prisoners!’”

    While Navalny may try to deflect attention from himself, he is quickly becoming a major Russian political figure. Two days after Navalny’s arrest, Medvedev’s Twitter account retweeted a vulgar attack making a direct reference to Navalny.

    “Today it became clear that a person who writes in their blog the words ‘party of crooks and thieves’ is a stupid, c——-ing sheep :),” said the tweet, originally written by Konstantin Rykov, a Russian politician.

    The Kremlin quickly removed the tweet and said that the account had been hacked by an employee in charge of technical support for the account. A press release promised that “the guilty will be punished.”

    International press have noticed the flurry of activity surrounding Navalny. Major news organizations have profiled him, including the New Yorker, the BBC and the New York Times. Nine days after his incarceration, Time Magazine covered Navalny, among others, for its 2011 Person of the Year article honoring “The Protester.”

    Several news organizations, including the BBC, have speculated that Navalny might be able to challenge Putin for the Russian presidency in 2012. Before his arrest, the Moscow Times ran an opinion piece with the title “The Only Electable Russian is Alexei Navalny” which claimed that “as of today, not a single Russian public figure other than Navalny has any chance at all.”

    According to Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, the Russian United Democratic Party “Yabloko,” an opposition party to Putin’s United Russia, has proposed nominating Navalny for the presidency.

    Putin has declared his intent to run for president, and when the New Times asked Navalny about a potential candidacy, he declined to comment.

    “I think that to give an answer to this question at this point and in the context of all that is happening is stupid,” he said. “That should not be discussed here.”

    Navalny is scheduled to be released on Dec 20. A major protest is scheduled for Dec. 24.

  8. McMahon to run for Senate again

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    Linda McMahon, who ran an expensive but unsuccessful Senate campaign against Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 in 2010, will try her luck a second time in 2012.

    According to the New York Times, the Republican former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment told two sources that she plans to run for the Senate seat currently held by Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67, who is not seeking reelection.

    Given her deep pockets, McMahon’s entrance into the race is likely to send political shock waves across the state. During her 2010 run, she spent $50 million, much of it her own money, though in 2012 she plans to raise more funds from private donors, the Times reported.

    The race for the Democratic nomination to succeed Lieberman is well underway, with former Secretary of the State Susan Biesywicz ’83 locked in a tight battle with three-term U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy.

    McMahon will announce her candidacy in the coming week, the Times reported.

  9. McMahon makes a run for our money

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    Republican Linda McMahon is inching up in the polls in the race for the Connecticut U.S. Senate seat.

    Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 is now only ahead of the former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO by 3 percentage points, 49 to 46, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday morning.

    Blumenthal, who recently got a boost in New Haven from his law school classmate former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73, led McMahon by a much wider margin — 6 percentage points — in a Sept. 14 poll.

    “Angry” voters are liking McMahon. According to the poll, 78 percent of the 33 percent polled saying they are “angry” with the federal government are would vote for McMahon. Only 20 percent would vote for Blumenthal.

    “Blumenthal has to be concerned about Linda McMahon’s momentum,” Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said in a statement. “He can hear her footsteps as she closes in on him.”

  10. Gen. McChrystal’s seminar: The syllabus

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    Retired four-star Gen. Stanley McChrystal has decided on a tentative syllabus for the graduate-level seminar he is teaching this semester.

    Eric L. Robinson GRD ’11, a research assistant for the course, sent out the following course outline Thursday afternoon to students enrolled in the class, “Leadership in Operation” (INRL 690). Note the Nov. 16 seminar theme, “Communicating the Story — the Media Environment.”

    • 7th September 2010: “The Importance of Leading Differently – The Changing Operating Environment”
    • 14th September 2010: “Case Study: The Changing Military 1972-2010”
    • 21st September 2010: “Role of a Leader”
    • 27th September 2010 (6-8pm): “Coping With Failure”
    • 28th September 2010 (Assignment 1 Due): “Building Teams – What Makes Some Great”
    • 5th October 2010: “Driving Change and Operating Differently”
    • 12th October 2010: “Navigating Politics”
    • 19th October 2010: “Making Difficult Decisions Pt. 1 – How We Decide”
    • 26th October 2010 (Assignment 2 Due): “Making Difficult Decisions Pt. 2 – Dealing With Risk”
    • 2nd November 2010: “Loyalty, Trust and Relationships”
    • 9th November 2010: “Dealing With Cultural Differences”
    • 16th November 2010: “Communicating the Story – the Media Environment”
    • 30th November 2010 (Assignment 3 Due): “The Leader – the Personal Impact of Responsibility, Notoriety and Other Realities”
    • 7th December 2010: “The Future Leader”

    Robinson also included details about the first class:

    7th September 2010 – Seminar 1: The Importance of Leading Differently: The Changing Operating Environment

    Description: A description of how changes in our operating environment over the 34 years of my service have demanded changes in how organizations operate – and how leaders lead them. For the military, focus often falls too narrowly – on technological advances in weaponry and armor. But like most organizations, truly significant changes in technology, politics, media, and society overall have driven change to almost every aspect of leading. Increasingly, the product of a failure to change – is failure.

    Historical Examples:

    • Case Study 1: The career of Stanley McChrystal
    • Case Study 3: The 2002-2003 decision to invade Iraq
    • Case Study 3: The United States Civil War
    • Case Study 4: German Grand Strategy of World War 2

    Primary Reading

    • Filkins, Dexter. Stanley McChrystal’s Long War. The New York Times Magazine.
    • 18th October 2009. P. 36.

    Supplemental Reading

    1. FM 6-22 Army Leadership, Chapter 10: Influences on Leadership (Operating Environment, Stress in Combat, Stress in Training, Dealing with the Stress of Change, Tools for Adaptability).
    2. Coutu, Diane L., “How Resilience Works,” Harvard Business Review on Leading in Turbulent Times. Harvard Business School Press. 2003.
    3. Gehler, Christopher P. Agile Leaders, Agile Institutions: Educating Adaptive and Innovative Leaders for Today and Tomorrow. Strategy Research Project.
    4. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 2005. 26pp. http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA434868
    5. Wong, Leonard. Developing Adaptive Leaders: The Crucible Experience of Operation Iraqi Free-dom. Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, 2004. 23pp. http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA424850
    6. Doyle, Michele Erina and Mark K. Smith, “Classical Leadership: theories of leadership” article (ILE materials)
    7. Reed, George E., ”Warrior Ethos” (ILE materials)
    8. Gardener, John. On Leadership. New York: Free Press. 1990., Chapters 1-3.

    Robinson also explained that while students enrolled in the class are free to talk with the media about their impressions of the class, the seminar itself will be off the record. The class meets on Tuesdays at 9:25 a.m., but the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs has yet to release the meeting location.

  11. Dean ’71 talks health care, Yale

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    Howard Dean on Meet the Press

    Long considered one of the most knowledgeable figures on the topic of health care, Howard Dean ’71 has recently been the subject of a number of profiles, as debate on a “public option” continues.

    Dean will be teaching a residential college seminar this semester, “Understanding Politics and Politicians,” with his friend and fellow Piersonite, organizational psychologist David Berg ’71 GRD ’72. He spoke with the News on Friday about health care, his course and why he wants to teach at Yale.

    Q: How has your role in the health care reform debate changed since you decided to teach at Yale early this year?

    A: I don’t know that it has changed all that much. Health care reform is something I have been interested and involved in for a long time — over 30 years.

    Q: Are you surprised by how long it is taking for a bill to move through Congress?

    A: I am not surprised. My original prediction, one I still think is true now, is that I am confident the President will sign health care reform into law in November.