Toronto

Just back from a four day trip to Toronto with my University of Michigan graduate students learning about pedestrian-oriented urban development. We toured seven major walkable urban places from downtown to a couple downtown-adjacent places, but especially suburban-located walkable urban places redeveloping old town centers and strip commercial centers. What did we see?

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Park Here

The High Line New York City Millennium Park Chicago Citygarden St. Louis A common plaint of contemporary social criticism is that American society has become more an archipelago than a nation, increasingly balkanized into ethnic, class, faith, and interest groups whose members rarely interact meaningfully with people whose affiliations they do not in large measure share. The pervasiveness of this phenomenon of American selfaggregation can be debated, but its existence is pretty plain.

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It’s a shock to see one of the pillars of American foreign policy start to disintegrate before our very eyes. That’s what seems to be happening to the relationship between the United States and Turkey, which policymakers in both countries have taken for granted for decades. I know it’s often said that formal alliances are losing their central place in international politics. If so, maybe the bad blood between Ankara and Washington is just part of a trend, something we wearily adjust to.

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Parsing the final compromise.

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That we seem to have avoided another Great Depression doesn’t mean our economy is anywhere near as strong as it should be. In fact, most indicators—from unemployment to private investment—prove quite the opposite. What can be done? How can we ensure the U.S. enjoys not merely a modest recovery but the kind of buoyant prosperity we saw in the decades after World War II and briefly in the 1990s? We put the question to few political economists and will run their thoughts over the next couple weeks.

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One of the annual Great Lakes political rites of late spring is the leadership policy conference on scenic Mackinac Island, the car-less Great Lakes getaway, at which Mackinac’s Grand Hotel, with the longest front porch in the world, is weighed down by 1500 of Detroit and Michigan’s leading business, media, and political figures, along with the odd early presidential aspirant. This being an election year, the manure being spread by seven Republican and Democratic Michigan gubernatorial hopefuls, along with visiting keynoter and maybe presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, rivaled the piles lef

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Maybe you missed it. But, earlier this week, President Obama signed into law the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act, a piece of legislation that will do nothing for anyone. And certainly not for freedom of the press. In his tiny talk, Obama said almost nothing. “Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is.” Pabulum. Actually, the murder of Pearl did not remind me at all of the value of a free press. It reminded me of the precarious places in which Jews find themselves around the world.

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Manufacturing Bloom

A few weeks after the 2008 presidential election, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard got a call from an Obama transition aide frantic for advice on the collapsing auto industry. Gerard put his numbers guy on the call, a former investment banker named Ron Bloom, who proceeded to offer a detailed disquisition on the financial situations of GM and Chrysler. Unlike other experts the transition team had consulted, Bloom was refreshingly blunt about the companies’ prospects, which he deemed grim.

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You may recall (or you may not) that on September 12 I posted a recounting the tale of Fonda's appeal to the city and to the world that the Toronto Film Festival be boycotted because the program included a fest for the Tel Aviv movie industry and its artistic achievements.  This sector of Israeli culture has over the last ten years produced an unusual number of very unusual productions.  Ask anybody in the quality side of the business and he will tell you that Tel Aviv is now one of the great centers of film art (as Tel Aviv is also to dance).  Sorry, this is not my ethnic chauvinism.  It is t

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King for a Day

Quiet sobs echo through the atrium of the Al-Rifai Mosque in Cairo, where rows of seated mourners are surrounded by wreathes of white flowers. Women dab their heavily made-up eyes, while men stare solemnly ahead. As the streets of Tehran demand freedom, a different group of Iranians gathered in Cairo last week to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the death of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Iranian monarch deposed by the 1979 Islamic revolution.

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