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Week of 31 May 2002 · Vol. V, No. 34

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Wall Street Journal: LAW prof is "self-appointed watchdog"

She has criticized a blue-chip New York law firm for not acting more aggressively to head off accounting firm Arthur Andersen's shredding of Enron Corporation documents last fall. She has criticized the plaintiffs' class-action bar, state attorneys general, and judges. She is bluntly opinionated and willing to point fingers and name names. Susan Koniak, a LAW professor of law instruction in the J.D. program, who was recently criticized by a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell for her testimony at a February Senate hearing on Enron, is, according to a May 8 Wall Street Journal article, "a self-appointed watchdog in a profession that she and others see as having little meaningful oversight." Partner Michael Carroll took exception to comments made by Koniak in the Senate hearing about his law firm, which had been retained by Andersen before the shredding occurred. Koniak censured Davis Polk's "failing to issue unequivocal directions that all Enron documents should be preserved and devising procedures to make sure that happened." Carroll called her comments "reckless." Some view Koniak's combative style as bothersome, but, she says, "I'm just this way. And I'm much more abrupt, harsh, and direct the more power someone has, because they can do more harm. Speaking truth to power is what independence is all about."

Boston Globe: BU study shows more infants going hungry

According to a BU study released on May 7, there has been a 45 percent increase in the number of infants and toddlers from low-income homes coming into Boston Medical Center and a medical clinic in Minneapolis for emergency care who are hungry or malnourished. From 1999 to 2001, researchers tracked nearly 3,000 children coming into the hospital and clinic during peak hours. They found that the number of hungry children coming into Boston Medical Center and the Minneapolis clinic rose from 9 percent of all infants and toddlers to 14 percent, and that the segment of underweight children climbed from 14 to 17 percent, according to the May 8 Boston Globe. The study defines hunger as an inadequate supply of the kind of nutritionally rich food needed for a child to have a healthy and active life. Deborah Frank, a MED associate professor of pediatrics, who led the study, says, "What's striking is that people have said, 'Ho-hum, so what if they can't get enough food?' This is one of the first studies that has found actual physical evidence in the bodies of babies and toddlers." While the BU team could not draw a definite link between its findings and welfare and economic shifts, Frank says, "This should be a wake-up call to people. This says there are canaries in our social mine, suggesting there are big things go-
ing on, and before we go on, we should scrutinize what we are doing to our children and especially our youngest children."

San Francisco Chronicle: Cybernetic rats could be rat-ical soldiers

Medical researchers who have successfully implanted electrodes in the brains of laboratory rats and used them like remote-controlled robots have attracted attention both from the medical community -- for the potential of restoring muscle control in paralyzed humans -- and from the Pentagon, reports the May 2 San Francisco Chronicle. The Pentagon supports efforts to learn whether the rats, by carrying tiny video cameras on their backs, can be used to sniff out hidden explosives, as mine detectors, or even to aid in search-and-rescue operations. Although military use is not what their experiments started out for, the research team from the State University of New York's Downstate Medical Center says that the Pentagon become interested and now is one of the project's funders. Howard Eichenbaum, a CAS professor of psychology, says, "Using a rat would certainly be a dirt-cheap way to find an enemy hidden in a cave, or sniff out a body in a ruin, and you could never get a million-dollar robot to do it. It's a challenging idea."


31 May 2002
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