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  • Is Summers Staying Up Past His Bedtime?

     For the second time in his tenure as Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Summers has nodded off in public. According to the pool report, during a meeting with credit card industry officials, "Summers appeared to be nodding off near the beginning of Obama's remarks. And then he DID nod off, doing the head on the hand and then head falling off the hand thing." Last time Summers dozed off was at the White House's Fiscal Responsibility Summit. Admittedly Summers is probably working crazy hours, and fiscal responsibility can be a dry topic, but c'mon! Maybe someone should remind him of that Seinfeld episode where George naps under his desk - that might be a more discreet solution.   Noam Scheiber of The New Republic remarked on Larry Summers' sleeping habits in his profile: "As at Harvard, Summers functions on exceedingly little sleep. (A former...
  • The Financial Crisis Hits Education

    I wonder what effect this will have on student diversity in coming years. It's certainly going to put pressure on those much lauded Ivy league programs to offer free tuition to lower and even middle income students -- Harvard had announced a free ride to students who come from families earning $60,000 or less annually a few years back. It will certainly also increase the temptation to take full fee paying students -- including more foreign students. Of course, that trend might itself be counter-balanced by the economic downturn. There's anecdotal evidence that some foreign students that once would have come to the U.S. to study are staying home because of plunging local currencies, and a lack of job opportunities in the U.S., since so many companies have hiring freezes on. Then, of course, there's the fact that the U.S. isn't the only place to get a great education these days -- the U.K., Europe, and even the Middle East and Asia are becoming more attractive hub...
  • Undercover at Falwell's Liberty University

    While most of his buddies studied abroad last year, Kevin Roose, a 21-year-old English major at Brown University, tried a different kind of cultural immersion: he spent a semester undercover at Liberty University, the college founded by Jerry Falwell. Roose joined the student newspaper, the school choir and even spent his spring break proselytizing drunk kids in Daytona Beach, Fla. Now a senior back at Brown, Roose wrote a book about his experience, called "The Unlikely Disciple." He spoke with NEWSWEEK's Jessica Bennett. ...
  • The New GI Bill

    Hey, soldier, wanna go to Harvard? Elite universities throughout the country—including that one in Cambridge, Mass.—will decide in the coming weeks whether to help veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan study for free, using their own funds to supplement the new GI Bill, which goes into effect in August. But for many universities, faced with shrinking endowments and a rising pool of financial-aid applicants, this is no easy decision. Kevin Galvin, Harvard's director of news and media relations, says the school hasn't yet reached a verdict—but he noted that much of its aid dollars have already been committed elsewhere.According to the GI Bill passed into law last year, veterans can study at the most expensive public university in their state, with the government covering full tuition and many fees, or they can apply the money to tuition at a private or out-of-state university. But veterans who choose an Ivy League school, for instance, will be left with a hefty bill. To close...
  • By the Numbers: Affected by the Financial Crisis

    A WorldPublicOpinion.org poll on the impact of the financial crisis on families shows that citizens in developing economies are feeling the worst pinch from restricted credit—and that high food prices are worrying one and all: 100 Percentage of polled countries where a majority of people say rising food costs have negatively affected them 37 Percentage where a majority say tight credit has hurt them. Mexico is worst off, with 91 percent reporting this. 71 Percentage where a majority say the crisis has hit them "a fair amount." The least affected? Germany (29 percent). 42 Percentage where a majority expect things to improve within a year. The most optimistic: Indonesia and China.
  • No Degree For You, Mr. President

    Andy Barr over at Politico is reporting that President Obama will not be receiving an honorary degree when he gives the commencement address at Arizona State University on May 13. A spokesperson for ASU told Barr that: "It’s normally awarded to someone who has been in their field for some time...Considering that the president is at the beginning of his presidency, his body of work is just beginning." But Obama will be receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame when he delivers their commencement address on May 17.If the six member panel that decides who gets honorary degrees isn't excited about Obama, ASU students are making up for it. Each graduate receives up to six tickets for the ceremony, and some enterprising students are trying to make a quick buck out of Obama's appearance. CNN reports that students are scalping their tickets for between $60 and $100 on craigslist. I guess they're just doing their part for the economy.
  • Seriously, Who Runs Security at the Economic Club?

    Code Pink strikes again! This time while Larry Summers is trying to talk about policy choices and deflation at the buttoned-up Economic Club of Washington, D.C. But it sounds like they run out of steam after about fifteen seconds, probably because they didn't expect to be onstage for any longer than that (reasonably enough).
  • 50 Influential Rabbis

    Compiled by Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman & CEO Michael Lynton, News Corporation Executive Vice President Gary Ginsberg and JTN Productions CEO Jay Sanderson
  • Fast Chat: North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan

    Future historians rummaging through the archives of the Washington Monthly might stumble upon a chilling article about a coming "financial conflagration … [E]very taxpayer in the country is on the line." The author was not some alarmist wacko, but a U.S. senator. And the year was not 2007, or even 2001. North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan expressed his fear of "exotic new derivatives called 'swaps' " way back in 1994. Five years later, when Congress passed legislation lowering the barriers between brokerages and banks, Dorgan told The New York Times, "I think we will look back in 10 years' time and say we should not have done this. " It's been 10 years, and Dorgan was dead-on. He spoke to Eric Adelson while visiting flood victims in his home state. ...
  • The Life of John Hope Franklin

    John Hope Franklin, 94Author and HistorianBorn into a world of segregation and a history of race written by whites, Franklin made himself into a great public intellectual— a bespoke black historian who put African-Americans on even ground in the national story. His research during Brown v. Board of Education helped desegregate the nation's schools, while his bestselling work "From Slavery to Freedom," now in its eighth edition, forever muscled aside racist portrayals of the black South. A graduate of Fisk and Harvard universities, he won enough honors for two lifetimes, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom. He died in Durham, N.C., where he was a distinguished professor at Duke. David Levering-Lewis, a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian whom Franklin mentored, shared these memories with NEWSWEEK's Tony Dokoupil:I heard about John long before I met him. As an undergraduate at Fisk, in fact, it was impossible not to hear about the great "John Hope," as he was universally known. At...
  • Today in Excellent Questions for Timothy Geithner

    "Just how much do you want to gut-punch Paul Krugman?"Daniel Drezner over at Foreign Policy wanted to throw this one into the queue for CFR's live blogospherically interactive interview with the Treasury secretary this morning. Sadly, though, he resisted the temptation.
  • The District: Episode Seven

    It's all about the Benjamins, baby -- now more than ever.  We join our hero this week as he realizes that promises are hard to keep, especially after signing a spending bill pizz-acked with earmarks. Yikes.  Some ugly rumors are ricocheting around the marble halls of our nation's capital: Could we possibly be forking over more cash to the banks and -- gasp! -- crafting a second stimulus package?!  Meanwhile, Team Barack starter Timothy Geithner is back for more as he struggles to get his economist friends to believe in his transformative power.  All this drama is set against an aural backdrop of ADHD, Sora An and Joe Echo -- click the player to tune in!
  • Let’s Talk About Sex

    Congress loves abstinence-only programs so much it has thrown big bucks at them. The public? It's got better ideas.
  • Alter: A New Era of National Service Begins

    An idea that began with Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps 76 years ago and extends through several presidents in both parties (including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) is about to get turbocharged.
  • "Stuffed" Takes On America's Fat Industry

    Sixty-four-ounce soft drinks. Monster Thickburgers. Unlimited refills. Americans are overstuffed, no doubt about it: two thirds of the nation is overweight and the number's ballooning as fast as our waistlines. Consumers blame food companies who bombard us with advertisements to eat, eat, eat; companies blame consumers who say they want healthier fare and yet continue to supersize. The truth? The responsibility lies all around, says Hank Cardello in his new book "Stuffed." A former exec at General Mills and Coca-Cola, Cardello had an epiphany about a decade ago (involving, naturally, a personal health scare). Now, he's at the forefront of obesity awareness and trying to get disparate interests—food CEOs and lobbyists on the one side, FDA watchdogs and nutritionists on the other—to come up with creative, profitable solutions to our public health crisis.That's easier said than done, as Cardello acknowledges. From pork-barrel farm bills that penalize non-corn vegetable crops to...
  • Color My World: Hues that Enhance Thinking

    Is your job to detect side-effects of a new experimental drug, scrutinize manufactured parts for defects or something else that requires close attention to detail? Then you might want to pick red chairs, curtains and carpet for your work space. Ditto if you're a student studying for a test: find a room with lots of red. Is your job to brainstorm new product designs, dream up ad campaigns and do something similarly creative? Paint the walls blue. And if you're a student who has to write a paper or poem for this weekend's homework, plan on doing it in a room with lots of blue....
  • More on Brain Voodoo

    I had no intention of revisiting the debate over the use of brain imaging in social neuroscience, which I blogged about last month. But that post brought such a tsumani of anger, dismay, invective and outrage that I felt an obligation to go back and dig more deeply into whether the charges in a paper by Ed Vul of MIT, Hal Pashler of UC San Diego and colleagues that is in press at Perspectives on Psychological Science were as meritless as many of the scientists I heard from claimed....
  • An 'Obama Effect' on Blacks' Test Scores?

    On only the fourth day of his presidency, it’s obviously way too soon to assess whether Barack Obama’s effect on African-Americans will extend beyond providing hope and inspiration. Will he, for instance, goad black students to higher achievement, since he is living proof that working hard can pay off? One intriguing hint of what researchers led by Ray Friedman of the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management calls the “Obama Effect” suggests that maybe, just maybe, Obama will do more for the scholastic achievement of African-Americans than anything since Brown v. Board of Education....
  • Childhood Obesity and School Exercise Programs: Not So Fast

    I hate to pour cold water on what seems like a surefire way to combat childhood obesity—namely, school-based health and exercise programs—so I’ll blame the Cochrane Collaboration for doing so. This non-profit group of scientists and physicians, based in England, regularly assesses the weight of the evidence on health and medical questions from whether St. John’s wort can alleviate depression (yes, sort of) to whether mouthwash can reduce bad breath (in some cases). Now the Cochrane team has weighed in on whether school programs can help kids lose weight and inspire them to ...
  • Sweden's Scores Plunge in International Tests

    In Sweden, forget stock prices: it's plunging test scores that are causing a national panic. Once 11th in the world in science rankings, Sweden's scores on international eighth-grade tests fell 42 points between 1995 and 2007—one of the worst declines among the 35 nations tested. Reading and math scores showed the same disturbing trend.Some experts say demographic shifts may be contributing to the plunge. Immigrants have increased from 9 percent of Sweden's population in 1990 to 12 percent currently, with many refugees coming from places like Somalia and Iraq. Families are moving away from schools where the newcomers are concentrated, and teachers aren't trained to deal with the increasingly segregated system.But others say a more plausible explanation is Sweden's lax education philosophy. Swedish children aren't graded on their work until the eighth grade, and there are few curriculum standards. Sweden's education minister, Jan Björklund, says this easygoing attitude is changing in...
  • White House Science Advisor

    That sigh of relief emanating from laboratories around the world is the sound of scientists reacting to reports that president-elect Obama will name physicist John Holdren his science adviser. Holdren has a resume longer than your arm (he is Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, President and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and former president, and chairman of the board of American Association for the Advancement of Science), but what he will bring to the table is an unflinching commitment to evidence-based policy making....
  • Reactions to College Board's SAT Score Choice

    No. 2 pencils ready? Today's question: will the College Board's new Score Choice policy for the SAT, which lets students hide bad scores in their College Board records from universities, (a) lower anxiety for high-school students; (b) raise anxiety for some when they discover that a loophole allows admissions offices to override the policy; or (c) infuriate some colleges? The answer is all of the above—and the already pressurized universe of students, colleges and helicopter parents is in turmoil over it.Until now, students who took the SAT more than once had to send all scores to admissions committees. Score Choice abolishes that, effective for high-school seniors applying next September. Announced by the College Board earlier this year with the goal of "reducing student stress," Score Choice permits students to send only their best overall score from a given test date. So students can take tests repeatedly with no apparent penalty. Indeed, according to guidance counselors, many...
  • New HBO Sitcom Stars Australian Comic Chris Lilley

    Ja'mie King is a spoiled teen princess who calls her friends "skanks" and makes sure to tell poor people, as bluntly as she can, how much she pities them. Jonah Takalua, a monosyllabic Pacific Islander, is a delinquent who bullies his schoolmates, torments his teachers and draws sophomoric graffiti (penises, usually—he's not very good) on every open surface. Mr. G is an egomaniacal drama teacher who has seized control of the school's latest production, which he rechristened "Mr. G—The Musical." Together, they are the stars of the new HBO sitcom "Summer Heights High," a faux documentary in the cringe-comedy tradition of "The Office" set in an Australian high school. If Ja'mie (that's "Jeh-may"), Jonah and Mr. G look eerily similar, it's because they're played by the same actor: Aussie superstar Chris Lilley, a protean comic who is swiftly emerging as his country's Peter Sellers.Back home, Lilley, 33, is a bit of a cipher. Despite his ballooning fame, he's media shy and soft-spoken. ...