Weekly Roundup 11/22/2010

Why are the Marines the military's biggest backers of 'don't ask, don't tell'?
Tammy S. Schultz, The Washington Post, Nov. 21, 2010

Synopsis: An openly lesbian professor at the U.S. Marine Corps War College traces the opposition among Marines to repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” to the Corps’ distinctive ethos (“Once a Marine, always a Marine”). But she notes that the opposition voiced by Marine leadership is not shared in the ranks: a majority of Marines apparently do not see a risk in allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the Corps.

Takeaway: Schultz believes don’t ask, don’t tell will eventually be repealed. The Marine Corps can adapt, she says, if the Marine leadership leads the way in accepting gays and lesbians in the ranks.

Posted by Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor, CQ Researcher


So…Whaddya Know?
Joseph Knippenberg, First Things blog, Nov. 20, 2010

Synopsis: In the Pew Charitable Trusts' ongoing survey series on Americans' knowledge of current events, results continue on the dark side. The class average was 42 percent -- five of 12 answers correct; college graduates managed a 57 percent average, still below failing last time I looked. Perhaps most alarming, to me, the youngest group -- ages 18 to 29 -- did worst, averaging only 4 correct answers out of 12. Under 2 percent of those surveyed got 11 or 12 answers correct. A link takes you to Pew's site where you can try the quiz yourself.

[Sad] Takeaway: "I’m tempted to argue that with these low levels of awareness regarding the most important questions and issues of public life, it’s not clear that republican self-government is (in the currently fashionable term) sustainable. Do we really know enough to govern ourselves?"

Posted by Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Reporter, CQ Researcher


Serial killings study prompts police to launch investigations
Thomas Hargrove, Scripps Howard News Service

Synopsis: Law enforcement authorities in Indiana and Ohio have launched investigations into suspected serial killings after a Scripps Howard News Service study of FBI computer files found many clusters of unsolved homicides of women across the nation. Many of the suspected serial killings detected in the study have never before been disclosed to the public.

Takeaway: The study reflects the increasing use of computers to crunch vast amounts of data, and the usefulness of the Freedom of Information Act. The study was based on computer records provided by the FBI of 525,742 homicides committed from 1980 to 2008. But Scripps also used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain detailed records of 15,322 killings that local police never disclosed.

For background, see the following CQ Researcher reports: Kenneth Jost, "Examining Forensics," July 17, 2009, and Sarah Glazer, "Serial Killers," Oct. 31, 2003.

Thomas J. Colin, Managing Editor, CQ Researcher


How Sarah Barracuda Becomes President

John Heilemann, New York Magazine, Oct. 24, 2010

This is one of the most intriguing entries in the seemingly endless outpouring of articles about Sarah Palin. With Palin feeding speculation that she will enter the race for the Republican presidential nomination, a veteran political journalist argues that she could become president. A series of events including the third-party candidacy of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would set the stage for her rise to the White House. These events are possible but not probable. Still, Heilemann’s speculation may be enough to give pause to Democrats who hope Palin will run on the grounds that she couldn’t win.

Peter Katel, Staff Writer, CQ Researcher