It’s common knowledge that the United States is miles behind other developed countries in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, and that our economy suffers from, as Bill Gates has put it, “a severe shortfall of scientists and engineers with expertise to develop the next generation of breakthroughs.” And we also know that the humanities are in a downward slide, in part because they’ve been eclipsed by the dire need to focus on STEM.
I’m not in the habit of agreeing with Scott Brown, the former Republican senator from Massachusetts, but he hit the nail on the head when he lambasted Democratic Senator Edward Markey for voting “present” Wednesday on the resolution to bomb Syria—making Markey, in his first important vote since he was sworn in two months ago, the only lawmaker on the 18-person Senate Foreign Relations Committee who couldn’t come up with a “yea” or “nay.” “Please let him know that the people
Last week, the Pacific Standard made the intriguing claim that online dating is worsening America's political polarization. Scanning the headline, it seemed possible. Match.com, OKCupid, and the like give all their lonely hearts access to a lot of demographic data—age, race, income, hometown—that can serve as a surrogate for party affiliation, and some users even slap their political views up on their profiles.
On Thursday, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis sent out word that she would not be announcing any plans for her political future before Labor Day, as she had originally promised, because her father is in the hospital. Democrats—who have been hoping the fiery Davis will run for the governor’s mansion ever since her star-making 11-hour filibuster for abortion rights in June—will have to hold their breath a little longer.
Whether or not the United States intervenes in Syria’s civil war, one thing about the current situation won’t change: Those of us outside Syria’s borders will never be entirely sure what’s happening within them. Syria has become the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, and legacy media outlets have, understandably, sent fewer and fewer of their reporters into harm’s way. This means that if journalists and policymakers in western countries want information from a source other than Bashar al Assad’s regime, they have to take it from citizen journalists, nearly all of whom are activists who openly support the opposition.
Last spring, Swarthmore joined the growing list of prestigious colleges induced to rewrite their sexual misconduct policies after students told the federal government the schools belittled their reports of assault.
Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry, in a speech at the State Department, said it is “undeniable” that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and called the attack “a moral obscenity.” This leaves President Obama, who in 2012 called chemical weapons a “red line” that would “change my calculus” when it came to dealing with Bashar Assad, with no clear road forward. When I called some liberal heavyweights to ask what the United States can and should do about Syria’s bloody civil war, some told me we’ve left ourselves no choice but to invade, while others stressed that that’s the worst thing we could do. The majority said reaching accord with Russia, Syria’s powerful ally, is our last hope—but none seemed confident that Kerry will succeed at the bargaining table.
As my colleague Marc Tracy wrote yesterday, progressive New Yorkers seem to have fallen in love with Bill de Blasio, the public advocate who “lives in Park Slope with his multiracial family, and talks a lot about inequality.” This is a particularly harsh blow for the other bona fide progressive in the race, current city comptroller John Liu.
Tuesday night, the Wall Street Journal undertook the commendable task of calling attention to the student debt crisis. The article opens with the tearjerker story of a young couple whose dream is to create plastic cupcake toppers “in the shapes of zombies, bikes and deer antlers” and the like. Tragically, John and Christine Carney, ages 31 and 29 and both currently students at the University of Maine, can’t afford the business loan for the laser cutter their ambition requires.
It’s unusual for a criminal trial to endear the victims’ families to the lawyers for the defense. But up in Boston, where the mobster James "Whitey" Bulger has spent the summer on trial for nineteen murders (along with dozens of other counts of racketeering and conspiracy), that’s exactly what happened.