The first data analysis released by the Wesleyan Media Project is making national news. The findings, reported by BusinessWeek, among other outlets, indicate that spending on political ads has increased by $220 million over the 2008 campaign cycle. Some of the increases are a result of senate races in more populous states than in 2008, including California, New York, and Florida. However the recent Supreme Court ruling in the ‘Citizens United’ case allowing more special interest and union money to flow into the campaigns has had an effect, with political action groups and unions coming in as top 10 spenders, some in a less than transparent manner.
“We are seeing evidence of changing tactics as groups seek shelter in the rules for nonprofits that allow such organizations to withhold their donor names,” said Erika Fowler, assistant professor of government and director of the Wesleyan Media Project.
In a review for The Washington Post, Kirk Swinehart, assistant professor of history, reviews the new book by Eric Jay Dolan, Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America. Swinehart says that the fur trade has been rendered a bland footnote by most historians but it was and remains one of the most vibrant and complex industries in the world. In his book, Dolan gives new life to the study of the fur trade in America and around the world, and adds the colors and textures that have long been missing in all but the most esoteric discussions of the fur industry’s history. “The result is easily the finest tale of the trade in recent memory,” Swinehart writes. “A crisply written tale unburdened by excessive detail or homespun provincialism.”
In a guest blog for The Washington Post‘s “On Faith” Peter Gottschalk, chair and professor of religion, discusses how even esteemed media outlets like The New York Times continue to intentionally or not promote the dangerous perception that Islam equals extremism.
In a Christian Science Monitor story on the Haitian presidential election, which will occur this weekend, Alex Dupuy, Class of 1958 Distinguished Chair of Sociology, Chair of African American Studies, discussed the perceptions of the international community regarding the election and its eventual outcome.
In an opinion piece for The Faster Times, Elvin Lim, assistant professor of government, wonders if a change of control in the House of Representatives will offer President Obama the opportunity to shift from blaming his predecessor for the country’s economic woes to blaming the newly-Republican House. Lim theorizes that such a scenario would also give Obama more opportunity to pivot the focus of his administration to a place where presidents can work more unilaterally: foreign policy.
Commenting in a piece for The National Journal, Joyce Jacobsen, Andrews Professor of Economics and Co-Chair, College of Social Studies, discusses how the recent recession has resulted in more men losing their jobs as a percentage of the labor force than women. The so-called ‘Mancession’ has occurred despite the fact that, before the economic downturn, men and women had nearly equal rates of unemployment (approximately 4.4%). But since then, in excess of 10% of men are now unemployed but women are at 7.7%.
Writing for The New Republic, Kirk Swinehart, assistant professor of history, reviews The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the new book by best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick. Swinehart says the book attempts to look beyond the myths surrounding this iconic battle, and reveals that both General Custer and Sitting Bull desperately hoped conflict could be avoided and were searching for face-saving alternatives to a battle. Swinhart says, “according to Philbrick, ‘the tragedy of both their lives is that they were not given the opportunity to explore those alternatives.’ In this otherwise fine book, historical perspective goes wanting. Custer and Sitting Bull make unlikely peaceniks indeed.”
A piece in The New York Times discussing components of the annual Haitian J’ouvert celebration festival cites Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor of religion, associate professor of American Studies, associate professor of African American Studies. Specifically, the piece discusses traditions during the early-morning parades that mark the end of the festival.
Commenting in a piece for The Boston Globe, Jeanine Basinger, Chair and Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, says that the phenomenon of working actors becoming film directors goes beyond vanity and comes from, among other things, a genuine desire to improve a film and give it a fresher perspective.
Reported by PBS’s The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Gary Yohe, Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, Professor of Environmental Studies, and a senior member of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), commented on the recent review of IPCC’s processes and procedures by the independent InterAcademy Council (IAC). The IAC’s primary recommendations include an executive committee with a full time director and more attention by the IPCC toward enforcing its own rules.