Monthly Archives: April 2008

Press Release: Minow, Inside the Presidential Debates

April 7, 2008
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Press Release: Minow, Inside the Presidential Debates

This fall on September 26th, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain will face each other in the first of three presidential debates leading up to the general election. Their encounter will carry on a now storied political tradition that dates back to 1960, when Senator John F. Kennedy first debated Vice President Richard M. Nixon. That debate, of course, marked television’s grand entrance into presidential politics and afforded the first real opportunity for voters nationwide to see their candidates square off against each other. But beforehand, as we all now know, Nixon had spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from a seriously injured knee. By the time of the debate, he was nearly 20 pounds underweight and his pallor was poor. To make matters worse, he arrived in studio wearing an ill-fitting shirt, and refused make-up to improve his color and lighten his 5 o’clock shadow. J.F.K., by contrast, had just spent several weeks campaigning in California. He was tan, confident, and well-rested. And the rest, as they say, is history. Though that history has for decades gone unwritten—until now. Enter Newton N. Minow, who here offers a timely behind-the-scenes look at how the presidential debates first came about . . .

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Tibetan Independence

April 4, 2008
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Tibetan Independence

Donald S. Lopez Jr., author of several books on Tibetan Buddhism including The Madman’s Middle Way: Reflections on Reality of the Tibetan Monk Gendun Chopel and Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West has written an interesting piece for openDemocracy on the recent turmoil in Tibet and the future of the movement for Tibetan independence. Lopez draws a parallel between Tibet’s current political relationship with China, and Latvia’s former relationship with the USSR. Lopez notes that since the 19th century Latvia, though culturally distinct from Russia, was repeatedly placed under communist control between brief respites of independence, only to gain what Latvians hope will be a lasting independence when the USSR collapsed in 1991. Thus Lopez writes: “Is there anything to do but wait? Latvia regained its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union. It would seem that Tibet could only regain its independence with the collapse of the Peoples Republic of China. In Buddhism, time is measured not in centuries, but in cycles of creation, abiding, destruction, and vacuity, then creation again.” Read the full article on the openDemocracy website. Also find out 7 Things You Didn’t Know about Tibet, a web feature for Prisoners of Shangri-La. . . .

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Why we need more advisers

April 3, 2008
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Why we need more advisers

Lt. Col. John A. Nagl is a leading experts on U.S. counterinsurgency operations. Authoring and contributing to several recent books on the topic—Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife and The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual—Nagl has been instrumental in promoting an alternative to conventional counterinsurgency strategy: increasing the U.S. military’s advisory role to foreign forces, and “ our partners to defend and govern their own countries.” In an op-ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times Nagl takes a look at the ongoing conflict in Iraq and offers his advice on how “to shift of the combat load from American forces to the Iraqi and Afghan armies.” Nagl writes: First, United States military and civilian leadership must recognize that resources to support this major shift in strategy have to be re-routed from our regular forces. Left to themselves, the military services will inevitably neglect advisory efforts to sustain conventional forces.… Second, shifting the burden from our forces to Iraqi and Afghan troops will call for close coordination between our civilian leadership and commanders in the field. Even as American combat forces draw down in favor of adviser-supported local armies, American combat support in the form of firepower, intelligence . . .

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Newton Minow, Inside the Presidential Debates

April 2, 2008
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Newton Minow, Inside the Presidential Debates

In the midst of the dramatic primary debates and what’s gearing up to be an embattled general election, Chicago’s NBC5 News ran an interview with one of the “pioneers of televised presidential debates,” Newton N. Minow, author of the recent Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future. NBC5’s political editor Carol Marin begins her report by noting that with his wide range of experience in both television and politics—from his position as chairman of PBS to his current position as vice chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates—”Minow is the only person to be a part of every official presidential debate between the Republican and Democratic nominees since 1960.” The interview continues with Minow’s comments on the current presidential debates: “‘I hope in the 2008 debates, the candidates will actually question each other.’ In the end, he said, the most important thing to come out of a debate is really very simple: ‘Can you trust that candidate to act in your best interest? To tell you the truth?'” Watch the archived video of the interview on the NBC5 website. Also see this web feature on memorable moments from presidential debates and read an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Five Weeks of Conversations Within Communities

April 1, 2008
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Five Weeks of Conversations Within Communities

The University of Chicago Press, in partnership with the City of Chicago’s Mayor’s Office of Special Events, announces the launch of a new lecture series—Great Chicago Places and Spaces: Conversations Within Communities. With a goal of fostering dialogue between Chicago citizens and Chicago writers, Conversations within Communities brings award-winning authors Mary Pattillo, Ronne Hartfield, Sally A. Kitt Chappell, Louise W. Knight and Stuart Dybek to the public square. Each author will be featured in free noontime lectures in the Millennium Room at the Chicago Cultural Center, followed by free evening readings at community sites throughout Chicago. All evening readings begin at 6:30 P.M. For more information call 312.744.3315 or navigate to the city of Chicago’s Great Chicago Places and Spaces website. Read the press release. . . .

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