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Issue #5 of 2003(21) 02-05-2003

The Columbia Shuttle disaster: Who wins, who loses and what next

William Schneider, a political analyst, believes President G.W. Bush is the winner of the political impacts of the Columbia shuttle disaster and predicted that American public will show more supports for his budget proposal to create a US$ 300 billion dollar deficit. Theresa Hitches of CDI believes that the temporary suspension of the US shuttle program will leave more burdens upon the Russians while Ivan Safranchuk of CDI argued that this disaster is a good chance for Russians to "sell" its space capability to Americans. The other half of the article also introduced Noel Hinnders's views about the next step NASA should take: build vehicles specifically for transporting the crew and life-saving ejection system for astronauts if anything goes wrong in space. In the end, David Noble of York University in Canada criticized the US space program as a combination of religious fanaticism and military impulse.

Speculations on the war on Iraq: When and how to start

According to military planning experts, the moon will decide exactly when to start the war on Iraq. All air strikes, from the Gulf War in 1991, to the Kosovo war to the war on Afghanistan, were first carried out at nights when moon did not rise until four o'clock in the morning. Moonlight will make the enemies on the ground see the profiles of the planes. This war on Iraq, different from the war in 1991, will have a large number of infantry troops enter the battlefields in the beginning of the war after 4-5 days of air strikes. The idea is that the US military will crush the first round of Iraqi resistance forces with "such violence and speed" that other Iraqi soldiers will think "resistance does not make sense", according to a retired Marine General.

Restore sperms before leaving for battlefields

Worried about defects of vaccines and possible attacks of biochemical weapons, more American solders chose to spend US$ 550 to store their sperms before leaving for the Middle East. Women solders don't have the same luck because eggs have a very low possibility of surviving the storage process.

Unemployment is good for health?

It sounds contrary to the conventional wisdom. Christopher Ruhm, an economist with North Carolina University, published his controversial study to show that people live a healthier life when the economy is down. The rise of unemployment rate by 1% will lead to reduction in smoking, obesity and exercise inertia by 0.6%, 0.3% and 1.8%. However, Ruhm recognized that he only means that short-term economic downturn leads to his conclusion. He said he firmly believed that "moving from Bangladesh to the US is very beneficial for your health."

Opinion Poll: US Racial relations, good or bad?

Six out of 10 Americans said they experienced racial discriminations themselves, according to the recent ABC News and Washington Post opinion poll. 52% of Americans believed racial relations in the US are very good or good while 45% said not good or poor. Only 44% of African Americans said racial relations are good and 55% had negative opinions about racial relations in America.

Studying ants help the US military prevail in future warfare

When looking for food, a group of ants first goes out individually and leave a chemical substance behind. The ant that comes back first has found the shortest way to food. Then the whole colony of ants will follow its path. This is the swarming strategy the US military is studying. The "ants" here could be UAVs, infantry soldiers or anti-riot policemen. Marcus Corbin of CDI believed this concept mainly came from the forth generation of the enemies of the US. For example, Al Qaeda tried to launch four attacks against the US at the same time.

The US military ready to buy more commercial satellite images

The US military said they are going to spend 14 times as many as the past budget to buy commercial satellite images in order to liberate the US military surveillance satellites.

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Issue #4 of 2003(20) 01-29-2003

Research revealed American public are not afraid of necessary war casualties

Peter Feaver and Christopher Gelpi, two researchers from Duke University, revealed that the American political leaders, for decades, wrongly presumed that the American pubic only supports US military involvement in wars of low- or zero-casualties. Feaver said the American public is divided into four groups: those who are against any war, about 10-20% of the American population; those who support any war America fight, about 25-30%. The rest is on the middle ground, whose support the administration wants to get. They are divided into two groups: the smaller group, so called "casualty-phobic, and a much larger group "defeat-phobic". The two scholars also worried that the lack of veterans in the current American political elite would have negative impacts on the US politics of military involvement.

Opinion Poll: who constitutes dangers to world peace?

The recent ABC opinion poll showed that Americans believed dangers to world peace mainly come from four countries: Iraq (33%), North Korea (18%), China (10%) and surprisingly the US (10%).

Racial segregation: an American "social disease" difficult to cure

According to a study by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, a growing number of black and Latino students attend schools where the majority of students are minorities. Meanwhile, a growing number of white children across the nation are enrolled in schools that are overwhelmingly white. "Martin Luther King's dream is being honored in theory and dishonored in the decisions and practices that are turning our schools back to segregation," said Gary Orfield, co-director of this Project.

The researchers blame the resegregation trend on a series of court decisions, beginning with the 1991 Supreme Court ruling Oklahoma City v. Dowell, which backed away from the court-enforced desegregation laws of the 1960s. In Charlotte, white parents filed suit in 1997 contending that their children were being discriminated against because they could not go to schools of their choice. A federal appeals court ruled in their favor in 2001, lifting the district's plan. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case last year, making this fall the first in three decades in which the system did not use race to help determine where children went to school. Asians, the study says, are the most integrated group, attending schools where the races are somewhat more commensurate with their national representation.

"Peeping" Parents

Surveillance software is helping many worried American parents to oversee their children's activities on the Internet. In some homes, the walls and cars have "eyes" and some parents follow their children's footsteps through the global positioning system built in watches. These parents argue that they did that for the safety of their children. However, a child psychiatrist believed it will harm the children's ability of learning to trust others.

Movies that changed our lives

Nick Cloony, George Clooney's father, wrote a new book called "the Movies that changed us", in which Clooney explored how the dream factory's products changed the actual social development path and the movie industry itself. Clooney believed 1927-1960 is a period when movies influenced the American thinking most. The giant heroes and villains of that period have much more power than in real life. Clooney said they taught Americans a few simplistic lessons: "That we were to protect those weaker than we and defy those who were stronger. That if we were honest and worked hard, life would reward us. That when we got a bad break, the best way to deal with it was with stoicism, or a joke, or a song. That dreams could come true if you had the courage to pursue them. That America was always right, that she always won, and that God was always on her side. And that with enough kindness and understanding of human frailty, all endings could be happy." Cynicism, always looming outside the theater, had difficulty getting a foothold among a population taught optimism by giants on the screen.

Twenty movies that Clooney says did the most to change our lives:

1. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
2. Star Wars (1977)
3. Taxi Driver (1976)
4. The Graduate (1967)
5. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
6. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
7. Marty (1955)
8. On the Waterfront (1954)
9. The Snake Pit (1948)
10. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
11. The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944)
12. The Great Dictator (1940)
13. Stagecoach (1939)
14. Boys Town (1938)
15. Triumph of the Will (1935)
16. Love Me Tonight (1932)
17. Morocco (1930)
18. The Jazz Singer (1927)
19. The Big Parade (1925)
20. The Birth of a Nation (1915)

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Issue #3 of 2003(19) 01-22-2003

The politics of the new anti-war movement in the US

The anti-war demonstration last weekend on Jan 18 was the largest protest against a war that has not even been started, with 600,000-800,000 participants in Washington and 200,000 in San Francisco. Different from the anti-war movement against the Vietnam War, this movement is complicated by the diversity of the supporters. Todd Gitlin of Columbia University believes that the old leftists have lost touch with the mainstream of the American society by receding to the box of criticizing everything the government did but did not provide alternative policies. The anti-war movement supporters need to illustrate a whole set of liberal and sophisticated foreign policy besides shouting the slogan of "US go home". The article indicated that the new pro-mainstream activists will be a more promising leadership for the US anti-war movement.

Preempting North Korea
-- Lay military cards against Kim Jong-Il

In the interview, Michael O'Hanlon lays out three military options against North Korea and their pros and cons. Military options include: tactical preemption (using surgical strike to remove North Korean's Yongbyon nuclear facility); strategic preemption (launch a war to overthrow the Kim Jong-Il.; and defense. O'Hanlon believed that the US-North Korean negotiation, if ever occurred, should discuss bigger plans including reducing the conventional forces for economic aid. The military option should be the last resort for the US.

"Big brother program" under scrutiny of the Congress

The Total Information Awareness program or so called "big brother program" is under the scrutiny of Congress. This program aims to build an info tank to store public and private information ranging from education, travel, purchase, communication and medical record. American Civil Liberty Union, a liberal group, complained in a recent report that the surveillance capability of the American government is like a monster and is growing. However, the legal chains that restrain the "monster" are weakening. Opponents of this program included conservative groups that support President Bush.

Opinion Poll: journalists should obey Pentagon in wartime

According to an ABC News poll, more Americans support regulation of the news during war times. Two thirds of Americans believe that the government has the right and power to prevent the release of military secrets by the media. 56% of Americans think the media should provide more supports for the government instead of questioning how the US military handle the fighting once the war is started.

Hunger in America

With the economic slowdown, the number of hungry Americans is growing rapidly. In an emergency food release spot in Ohio, the aid words found the waiting line this year was much longer than before. Surprisingly, not all the people waiting for food are unemployed. 40% of them have a full-time job; however, their earning still cannot prevent their families from starvation. The emergency food aid was increased by 19% in 2002 and aid workers say that half of the people that get the aid food are children. According to the US Department of Agriculture, surprisingly, one out of six children is on hunger. That means that 12 million American children are struggling with starvation and malnutrition every day.

Cross the line without notice
-- A recent research study found that a happy marriage does not necessarily prevent extramarital affairs

Shirley Glass, a psychiatrist studying infidelity for 20 years, pointed out in her new book "Not Just Friends" that people in a happy marriage often cheat on their spouse deliberately or without knowing that [what]. At least half of people in long-term relationships, married or not, homosexual or heterosexual, will break their emotional or sexual commitment to their partner, according to Glass's study.

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Issue #2 of 2003(18) 01-15-2003

The US looking forward to China's help in North Korean crisis

Don Oberdorfer of Johns Hopkins SAIS believed that what North Koreans really want this time is a non-aggression agreement. The best time to convince North Koreans not to go nuclear is last fall, a chance squandered by the US Government. Richard Bush III of Brookings Institution believed that China is increasingly becoming a stake-holder in the Korean Peninsular crisis and thus playing an increasingly important role. But the problem is whether North Koreans will risk offending their neighbor and reject the opportunities of political dialogue.

Foreign MBAs going unpopular

About 30-40% of MBAs in the top business schools in the US are foreign students, who wanted to work in the US for at least a few years. The more complicated and restrictive visa policy against foreigners made employers increasingly reluctant to hire foreign MBA graduates. Schools are trying different ways to "sell" their foreign students but a long-term solution is perhaps cut down the number of foreign students in the American business schools.

Coffee Nation

Conventional wisdom says that the American lifeline is oil. Not many mention coffee as the American lifeline despite the fact that coffee is the second most expensive product in the world. More than half of Americans drink coffee at an average of 3-4 cups a day, which means 330 million cups a day. The article is about pros and cons of coffee drinking habit and how coffee influences the American life and work culture.

Death penalties lowered in the US last year

According to the new statistics released by the US Justice Department, the number of executions carried out by federal and local governments went down in 2001. Between receiving the death penalty and being executed, the prisoners spent an average of 11 years and 10 months in prison. All 68 executions in 2002 used injections except one in the US. In 2001, 10 states revised their laws about death penalty. Five states claimed to abandon the death penalty for people with mental illness while two other states put conditions to death penalty for mentally ill people.

Opinion Poll: the majority of Americans put "family" in the No 1 place

A new Gallup poll showed that 96% of Americans chose "family" when asked to list several things most important to their life. 90% chose health, 73% work, 70% friends and only 65% chose money. 65% of Americans chose religion, 59% chose leisure time, 46% hobby and sports and 32% chose joining community and public interest service.

Help to cultivate children's creativity should start earlier, studies show

Paint, glue, scissors and blackboard, the most negligible stuff in the everyday life, could be crucial for children to cultivate their creativity and imagination. A child psychiatrist said it is very important to let children get in touch with art early one so that they could develop creative thinking mode that might not help them become creative in art but in other areas. Children with particular creativity love to play with words, create different endings for an old story or compose their songs or tunes. But often the most creative children are not the best students in the school. Parents should encourage children to express themselves in their own way and avoid criticizing their children to make them follow the traditional way of thinking or doing things.

Globalization led to terrorism

The article introduced the ideas of Paul Pillar, a former CIA officer, and Thomas Dixon of Center for the Study of Peace and Conflicts on the relations between globalization and terrorism.

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Issue #1 of 2003(17) 01-08-2003

Major adjustment of the US Middle East Policy, Democratization becomes the 4th pillar

The US began to shift its focus of its policy in the Middle East by adding democratization to the policy agenda together with "peace solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, anti-terrorism, removing Saddam Hussein's WMD capability". The article explains why the US took this measure it failed to take for decades in Middle East and how promising it is that this policy could be put into practice.

Reviewing the US-China military dialogue

The two countries are still lacking sincere and practical exchanges despite the symbolic importance of the start of the dialogue. Kime Teife; Dreyer of University of Miami said that the two were mired in Taiwan issue when China asked the US to reduce arms sales to Taiwan and the US asks China to reduce the missile deployment along its coast.

FBI structure adjustment

FBI is reshuffling its structure in order to focus more on its mission of anti-terrorism. The anti-drug mission is possibly the area that suffers most because of this change.

World Bank New Report: 2003 means weaker economic growth for developing countries

Although global economy is recovering slowly in 2002, low confidence of international investors because of the turbulent stock market, corporate scandal and debts accumulation, might prevent a bigger economic recovery. Developing countries will suffer from this slow economic recovery much more than developed countries.

Jealousy: genetic or not?
-- Introduction of evolutional psychology and its criticism

The article introduced David Buss's theory about evolutionary psychology and Dr. David DeSteno's refutation.

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