Woods’ Apology: Too Little, Too Late?

Three months after allegations of infidelity surfaced during Thanksgiving weekend, Tiger Woods appeared before a select crowd to offer an apology for his indiscretions. “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did was unacceptable and I am the only person to blame,” he said.
He went on to ask for forgiveness from his fans and asked the media to leave his family alone. “Whatever my wrongdoings, for the sake of my family, please leave my wife and kids alone,” he pleaded.
While Woods’ mea culpa was judged sincere by the public at large, according to several instant, unscientific polls, some commentators questioned the circumstances surrounding his statement.
Lauren Bloom, author of The Art of the Apology, says, “Saying ‘I’m sorry’ in a tightly controlled environment makes it look more and more like an exercise in ‘let’s check the box and do what my PR people tell me to do.’”
Woods did not take questions after his remarks at the headquarters of the Professional Golfers Association in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
He plans to return to a Mississippi sexual rehabilitation clinic and while he stated his intention to eventually return to professional golf, he said he did not know when that will happen. While his temporary absence has been considered a big blow to the financial well-being of the Tour, PGA officials say it will have little effect on its overall health and consider the state of the economy to be a larger concern, especially with the bankruptcy filings of perennial sponsors General Motors and Chrysler.
Woods, who many believe will one day become the all-time leader in major championships won, drew a lot of criticism from fellow competitors for making the statements in the middle of the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. (Woods is a former spokesman for Accenture, but was dropped after the scandal surfaced.) “It’s selfish,” says South African golfer Ernie Els. “You can write that. I feel sorry for the sponsor…. This takes a lot away from the golf tournament.”
Others, such as American Stewart Cink, offered their support. “It’s a big part of the process to go through that difficulty and to face up to what’s happened,” says Cink. “And especially the hurt that other people are feeling, his friends and family.”
Meanwhile, several of his mistresses have come out demanding personal apologies from the golfing champion for the unwanted attention the scandal has brought them. Veronica Siwik-Daniels, a former pornographic performer, said, “I really feel I deserve to look at him in person face to face in the eyes because I did not deserve this.”

For more information see the CQ Researcher report “Sex Scandals” (Jan. 22, 2010), by Alan Greenblatt.

Wintry Weather Ignites Climate Change Debate

By Reed Karaim

In the charged partisan atmosphere of Washington, even the weather is a political football. No sooner had the city been struck by its second snowstorm in a week, than global warming skeptics seized on the cold and damp winter as proof the world wasn’t heating up, after all.
“It’s going to keep snowing in D.C. until Al Gore cries Uncle,” The Washington Post quoted Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., crowing in a tweet. The New York Times reported that the family of the Senate’s leading climate change scoffer, Sen. James M. Inofe, R-OK, built an igloo on Capitol Hill and hung a sign labeling it “Al Gore’s new home.”
The former vice president, presumably safe somewhere in warmer climes, has yet to respond. But climate scientists swung back at the skeptics by noting that fiercer winter storms actually fit climate change models. “The science is crystal clear that many extreme weather events have increased in recent years — and that there is a link to climate change,” wrote Joseph Romm, a physicist and climate expert who edits the blog Climate Progress.
The winter weather isn’t the only news that has aroused climate change skeptics. The other concerns reports of errors in a 2007 report by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The U.N. report, updated regularly, is intended to serve as a compendium of climate change research and its conclusion that the evidence for global warming is “unequivocal,” is often cited.
But critics have seized on errors they claim exist in studies cited within the report, particularly concerning the rate at which glaciers are melting in the Himalayas. They have also criticized the chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra K. Pachauri, for an alleged conflict of interest. Pachauri works as a consultant for investment banks and firms that could profit from carbon-trading policies enacted to combat global warming.
Pachauri has responded forcefully to his critics, saying he makes no money from these activities; it all goes to the Energy and Resources Institute, a nonprofit research center in Delhi that Pachauri founded, which promotes sustainable development and supports charitable projects worldwide.
As for the criticisms of the 2007 report, the U.N. panel has acknowledged an error in the conclusion that chances are very high the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035. In a statement the IPCC said the conclusion was “poorly substantiated” and standards of evidence required by IPCC procedures were not applied properly.
However, the IPCC stood by the broader evidence that the retreat of those glaciers and others is projected to accelerate through the 21st century, saying the conclusion remains “robust and appropriate.” The IPCC also found another charge unwarranted. Overall, several scientists have described the claims against the report, which cites a broad range of studies, as relatively minor.
In the political blizzard of charges and countercharges surrounding climate change, the long view can easily be lost. The scientific consensus for manmade global warming is not dependent upon any one study or data set but represents the conclusion of hundreds of studies conducted by climate scientists around the world for more than three decades.
With this winter’s weather, some residents of the Northeast can be excused for wondering, “Where’s my global warming when I need it?” But weather is not climate. Weather is what’s happening in the atmosphere, more or less right now. Climate is the aggregate norm of weather for a geographical area over a long period of time. Romm, other climate scientists and many climate skeptics agree that no single weather event can be blamed conclusively on climate change.
So, enjoy the snow. What does it mean? It means the kids have been home from school a lot and you might not have to go to work today.

For background see "Climate Change," Reed Karaim, CQ Global Researcher, February 2010

Split Rulings on Student Speech Rights

By Dagny Leonard
      Two Pennsylvania students who were suspended for mocking their school principals on MySpace pages have been given different answers on their free speech rights from a federal appeals court.
      In separate rulings by separate three-judge panels, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the suspension of a middle school student for depicting her principal as a sex addict but struck down a high school student’s suspension for a less graphic parody of his principal.
      The rulings, both issued by the Philadelphia-based appeals court on Feb. 4, reflect the continuing difficulty for school administrators and courts alike in defining how far schools can go in regulating students’ off-campus use of the Internet. Despite the different outcomes, the panel that issued the second of the rulings said it was aware of the other panel’s decision and believed the two rulings were not contradictory.
      In the first of the cases, Justin Layshock, then 17, was suspended from Hickory High School in Hermitage, Pa., after parodying principal Eric Tosch in December 2005 as a “big steroid freak” and a “big hard ass.”
      In the second case, a middle-school student in Orwigsburg, Pa., identified as J.S., was suspended after the composing a fake MySpace profile in March 2007 of her principal, James McGonigle. The profile, according to the court opinion, included “profanity-laced statements insinuating that [McGonigle] was a sex addict and a pedophile.
      Parents of both students, represented by lawyers from the American Civil Libeties Union of Pennsylvania, filed federal court suits challenging the suspensions as a violation of their children’s free speech rights. A federal judge in Pittsburgh overturned Layshock’s suspension, but the judge in Harrisburg who heard J.S.’s case upheld her discipline.
      In overturning Layshock’s suspension, the three-judge appellate panel noted that the parody had created no disruption at the school. “The District is not empowered to punish his out of school expressive conduct under the circumstances here,” the court ruled unanimously in Layshock v. Hermitage School District.
      In J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District, however, a different three-judge panel voted 2-1 to uphold the suspension by saying that school officials “could reasonably have forecasted a substantial disruption of or material interference with the school” as a result of the parody. In a footnote, the court noted the ruling in Layshock’s case but said the two cases were “distinguishable.”
      The Supreme Court first recognized student speech rights in a 1968 decision, Tinker v. Des Moines School District, that overturned disciplinary actions against students for protesting the Vietnam War. In subsequent decisions, the high court has reaffirmed that ruling while upholding school officials’ power to punish disruptive speech.
      The Internet creates a new issue for school administrators because Internet postings may be written on computers off campus but read by classmates at school. School officials continue to claim authority to punish any Internet postings that could cause disruption, but one expert warns they are waging an impossible fight.
      “Censorship never works,” says Jamin Raskin, a professor at American University's Washington College of Law and editor of We the Students: Supreme Court Cases for and About Students (CQ Press). “And it especially doesn't work in the age of the Internet.”
      For background, see Kenneth Jost, “Student Rights,” CQ Researcher, June 5, 2009.

Pentagon: Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,"

By Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor, CQ Researcher
     Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the nation’s top military officer, called Tuesday (Feb. 2) for ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military.
     Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he is awaiting recommendations due in 45 days to ease enforcement of the policy, which bars openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the military. Gates also said he was appointing a high-level task force to complete a study by the end of the year on how to end the policy altogether.
     Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the study would provide “objective” information on the effects of the policy. But Mullen added that he personally favors repeal.
     “No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women      to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Mullen said.
     Gates’ and Mullen’s statements came after President Obama included a call for repealing the policy in his State of the Union address last week. Obama had previously called for ending the policy during his campaign and in appearances before gay rights groups as president.
     Democratic senators generally welcomed Gates’ and Mullen’s statements. “We should repeal this discriminatory policy,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the committee.
     But Republicans criticized what they depicted as a political move to undo the policy that Congress enacted into law in 1993. Sen. John McCain of Arizona’s, the committee’s top Republican, said the policy “has been effective” and emphasized that repeal would be up to Congress.
     As interim steps to ease enforcement of the policy, Gates said the Pentagon could “raise the bar” on what constitutes reliable information or a reliable source to initiate an investigation of a service member’s sexual orientation. He also said the department could “reduce the instances in which a service member . . . is outed by someone with a motive to harm” him or her.
     In answer to Levin’s question, however, Gates said he believed current law would not permit the Pentagon to impose a moratorium on discharging service members for violating the policy.
     The move to repeal the policy comes after a year in which discharges of gay and lesbian service members declined by about 30 percent from the previous year: from 619 in 2008 to 428 in 2009. Mullen acknowledged that most discharges result from voluntary acknowledgments by gay or lesbian service members.
     The gay rights group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network applauded Gates’s and Mullen’s statements, but criticized the one-year study as “far too long and unnecessary.” From the opposite side, Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, said the plan outlined by Gates and Mullen would create confusion and demoralize the troops “in order to help President Obama deliver on a political promise.”