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Midnight Breakfast with Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore on Friday, September 10, at 11 p.m. at the GSU Union Court

Week of 3 September 2004 · Vol. VIII, No. 1

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New York Times: Pinsky remembers Milosz

“By maintaining a stubborn loyalty to his language and his native province,” Polish writer Czeslaw Milosz became “a world poet,” writes CAS English Professor Robert Pinsky in an August 26 New York Times article. Milosz, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature, died on August 14, at age 93. A poet, essayist, and literary translator known for his condemnations of authoritarianism, Milosz witnessed the Nazi occupation of Poland and fled to the West in the 1950s to avoid Communist persecution. He returned to his homeland in the 1980s a hero of the Solidarity movement. Pinsky, former U.S. poet laureate, visited Milosz in a Kraków hospital shortly before his death. He writes: “To the question, ‘Czeslaw, have you been composing sentences in your head? Are you writing in your mind,’ he responded, ‘Nooo’ — the syllable prolonged in a crooning, Slavic way — ‘only absurd bric-a-brac.’ The homely French phrase, so amusingly placed, demonstrated his subtle command of English . . . Then he chose to give an example of the bric-a-brac, a dream he had had that day, in the hospital: ‘I dreamed I was in 18th-century Boston,’ he said. ‘Arguing with Puritans.’ Then, ‘Everybody was in uniform!’ — the old laughter booming, with its sense of absurdity and purpose, appetite and revulsion, grief and renewal: an essential sound of the 20th century, persisting in an unsurpassed body of work. The enemies of that great voice could not silence it in exile; their baffled, angry protests cannot muffle its triumph at home.”

Daily Star ( Lebanon): Kerry would restore U.S.-Mideast diplomacy

CAS International Relations Professor Augustus Richard Norton expects that John Kerry, if elected president, would reinstate “serious diplomacy” between the United States and the Middle East, according to Lebanon’s English-language newspaper the Daily Star on August 26. “Kerry is much more likely to change the process of consultation, much more likely to listen instead of acting thoughtlessly, much more likely to try and cooperate fully with international groups such as the EU and the UN,” he says. The veteran Middle East analyst, who has been consulted by the Kerry campaign on foreign policy, says Kerry likely would embrace last year’s Geneva Accord as a model for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. “I think in general what we would see is a process of reengagement by Kerry, which will have the effect of provoking debate within Israel, which will be very constructive and imbue Palestinians with a sense of hope that there can be some progress,” he says. “Unlike with Bush, I don’t think we are going to see the egregiously unfortunate rhetoric of applauding Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon and people like Sharon as ‘people of peace.’ Instead, we are likely to see a more serious attempt to engage more moderate voices in Israel.”

Boston Globe: Doctors ask, don’t tell

Many health-care professionals say a new federal program that provides $1 billion to hospitals nationwide to treat undocumented immigrants will scare away those it’s designed to help, reports the August 23 Boston Globe. That’s because hospital employees now are required to ask patients their immigration status. Officials implementing the legislation say the information will be used simply to track how much aid should go to each hospital. But critics say that when word gets out among immigrants that hospitals now ask about their status, they’ll stay away for fear of being deported. Lawmakers “need to realize that health-care facilities are about caring for people’s health, and not anything else,” says Michael Grodin, an SPH professor of health law and codirector of Boston Medical Center’s Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights. “We’re not a police force. We’re not a law enforcement force. We’re not a congressional force. We’re clinicians.”

Business Week: Dirty deeds, dirt cheap

Employees at a Wal-Mart in Jonquiere, Quebec, were granted the right to unionize by the Quebec Labour Relations Board last month, but don’t expect a solidarity movement to sweep the workforce of the discount megachain’s stores in the United States. In Business Week on August 12, Michael Harper, a LAW professor who specializes in labor and employment law, says in this country companies face slight penalties for bullying workers who organize. “I’m not heartened too much,” Harper says of the Canadian labor victory. “American law is ineffective in deterring employers who want to remain nonunion and are willing to go to the edge of the law, and beyond, to intimidate workers who want to join.”

L.A. Times: The fog of war crime

“For the present generation of American soldiers, Abu Ghraib is fast becoming what the My Lai massacre was to the generation that fought in Vietnam — an episode of horrific misconduct transformed through subsequent mishandling into a full-fledged moral crisis,” writes Andrew Bacevich in an August 31 L.A. Times editorial. But the episodes differ in an important respect. In 1970, a U.S. military report “had no difficulty calling a spade a spade” and “bluntly called the chain of command to account,” writes Bacevich, a CAS international relations professor and Vietnam veteran. In contrast, “[t]he numerous official inquiries that Abu Ghraib has spawned have amounted to a well-choreographed exercise in evasion. . . . Although the word ‘responsibility’ is much bandied about in connection with the prisoner abuse scandal, it appears to have no address — at least none that links directly to the names of regular Army colonels and generals.” The Pentagon, he says, could take a lesson from how moral values were restored in the military following My Lai: “Senior leaders — colonels and generals — had made My Lai possible and then had conspired to cover it up. Only by confronting their malfeasance, dishonesty, and corruption could the officer corps as a whole begin to rehabilitate itself.”


3 September 2004
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