Weekly Roundup 10/11/2010

Cable news chatter is changing the electoral landscape
Howard Kurtz and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2010

Synopsis: Republican politicians and commentators use the Fox News Channel, Democrats and liberals MSNBC. So Republicans watch Fox and have their views reinforced; Democrats watch MSNBC to the same effect.

Takeaway: As media-watcher Kurtz and politics-watcher Tumulty observe, “The increasing polarization of cable news is transforming, and in some ways shrinking, the electoral landscape.”

Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor, CQ Researcher


California Teachers Paying for Their Own Supplies and More
Kristin Kloberdanz, Time, Oct. 8, 2010

Synopsis: Teachers in cash-strapped California buy and scrounge and beg for supplies, from paper to clarinets to window coverings, and clean their own classrooms in the evening.

Takeaways: Dirty little secret #1: Teachers have been doing this forever, so in this economic downturn, with states and localities excruciatingly low on cash, it's probably hard to overestimate how many teachers are contributing large amounts out of their own time and pockets. Dirty little secret #2: Even though it apparently takes multimillion-dollar bonuses to hold onto the best and the brightest in the financial industry, schools, which, last time I looked, don't pay so much, have always attracted many people who truly care. (Full disclosure: former teacher here, who switched to journalism in part because teaching was just too danged hard, and demanded far too much, intellectually, physically, and emotionally, to contemplate doing for a lifetime. Unlike any other job I can imagine, teaching gets harder every year, because every year you see more of what's needed and what you might be able to accomplish if you could work just that much more effectively and give just that much more.)

Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer, CQ Researcher


Whistle. Then Worry and Wait: The Odyssey of a Trader Who Went Undercover to Stop a Ponzi Scheme
Edward Wyatt

It was a $160 million investment swindle, and as soon as the Minneapolis investment manager heard the pitch being delivered to a roomful of people, many his neighbors, he knew it was a Ponzi scheme. Wearing a wire for the FBI, he helped the authorities shut it down, but not before millions of dollars more were invested, and lost.

Takeaway: Two old adages immediately came to mind: The wheels of justice grind slow; and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Thomas J. Colin, Managing Editor, CQ Researcher


In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (W.W. Norton & Co. 2010).
Daniyal Mueenuddin

A Pakistani-American author, raised and educated in both countries, now living in Pakistan, writes of people trying to navigate the intricacies of a society caught between feudalism and modernity. His book, a series of short stories that all involve a declining land-owning dynasty, spares no one. The book doesn’t take up directly the issues that are putting Pakistan in the headlines every day. Those issues, complicated as they are, are only part of the story of an even more complicated country, Mueeenuddin shows.

Venezuela Community in Eye of Storm as Chavez Assails Israel
Ilan Stavans, Jewish Daily Forward, Oct. 6, 2010

Latin Americans who paid attention to Fidel Castro’s recent defense of Jews and Israel recognized his tacit criticism of one of his most devoted acolytes, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. His semi-authoritarian regime has subjected Israel to a barrage of attacks that have verged on antisemitism, and some of Chávez’ followers have gone over that line. Stavans, a Mexican-born Jew who is professor of Latin American literature at Amherst College, portrays a Venezuelan Jewish community that is shrinking as members leave an increasingly hostile environment.

Peter Katel, Staff Writer, CQ Researcher