This Week's Report: "Prolonging Life"

Life expectancy has been rising steadily in the United States, and by 2050 more than 1 million Americans will be at least 100 years old – 20 times the total in 2000. The trend has some politicians and policymakers worried about the impact of an expanding elderly population on Social Security and Medicare costs.

Nonetheless, as freelancer Beth Baker explains in this week’s fascinating report, scientists are working to prolong human life even more, with some envisioning a day when people routinely live far past the century mark –independently and in good health. Some futurists even talk of using therapies and technology to help humans remain hearty for hundreds – if not thousands -- of years.

But many gerontologists and ethicists say such notions are far-fetched. The human body has a limited lifespan, and the goal of science should be quality – not unbounded quantity -- of life, they argue. This report is ideal for classes focusing on the ethics of science, Social Security and Medicare policy, U.S. and global demographics and the sociology of aging.

(For other recent reports on aging, see Alan Greenblatt, “Aging Population,” CQ Researcher, July 15, 2011,; and Greenblatt, “The Graying Planet,” CQ Global Researcher, March 15, 2011,

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor

Privacy on Court's Docket; Health Law Cases in Wings

By Kenneth Jost
Supreme Court Editor, CQ Press
      The U.S. Supreme Court opens a new term on Monday with two closely watched privacy cases already on its docket and challenges to President Obama’s health care plan in the wings.
      Among other cases, the court will consider for the second time whether the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can punish broadcasters for “fleeting expletives.” And in a case being closely watched by advocacy groups across the ideological spectrum, the justices will consider whether to allow private suits challenging state laws on federal preemption grounds.
      More important than any of the 48 cases already granted review are the multiple challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that Congress passed and Obama signed in March 2010 after a fiercely partisan legislative battle. Moves by both sides Wednesday in one of the cases appeared to make it all but certain that the justices can take up the issues in time for a ruling before the term ends next June, midway through a presidential election year.
      Three federal appeals courts have issued different rulings on the key issue in the cases: the constitutionality of requiring everyone to have health insurance or pay a penalty. The Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati upheld the law. The Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., rejected the challenges on procedural grounds. But the Atlanta-based Eleventh Circuit ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional in separate cases filed by Florida along with 25 other states and by the National Federation of Independent Business.
      Challengers have already filed their petition, Thomas More Law Center v. Obama, 11-117, asking the justices to review the Sixth Circuit decision. In separate moves on Wednesday, both sides in the Eleventh Circuit case asked the Supreme Court to review the decision in time to decide it this term. “We hope the Supreme Court takes up the case,” White House domestic policy adviser Stephanie Cutter wrote on the White House blog in late afternoon, “and we are confident we will win.” The government’s petition is U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Services v. Florida, 11-398.
      Court watchers are anticipating two other major issues that the justices may decide to review this term. In Arizona v. United States, 11-182, the government is challenging Arizona’s immigration-related law known as SB 1070 that, among other things, makes it a state crime to fail to carry federally issued documentation. Critics call it the “show me your papers” law. The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court injunction blocking major provisions of the law. The state has appealed to the Supreme Court.
      In a second case, Fisher v. University of Texas, 11-345, an unsuccessful white applicant to the University of Texas’ flagship Austin campus is challenging UT’s admissions policy of treating race as a “plus factor” for minority applicants. A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, upheld the policy; the full court rejected an en banc hearing by a 9-7 vote, over a forceful dissent.
      Even without those potential cases, the court starts with a challenging array of issues following a term that many observers rated as lacking blockbuster decisions. The new term opens with the same lineup as last year’s with a generally conservative bloc of five Republican appointees, headed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and a liberal bloc of four Democratic-appointed justices, including Obama’s two appointees: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. In closely divided cases, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a moderate conservative, sometimes votes with the liberal bloc to give it a majority.
      The two privacy cases may test the conservative-liberal fault lines. In United States v. Jones, 10-1259 (argument: Nov. 8), the government is claiming the right to track a drug suspect using a global positioning system (GPS) device attached to his car without first obtaining a search warrant. The D.C. Circuit ruled that a warrant is necessary. In another high-tech search case a decade ago, two conservatives — Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — joined three liberals in ruling that police need a warrant to use a thermal imaging device to “search” a home for evidence of indoor marijuana cultivation (Kyllo v. United States, 2001).
      Former acting U.S. solicitor general Neal Katyal, now in private practice, told a pre-term briefing sponsored by the American Constitution Society that a ruling to require a search warrant for GPS tracking could have “fairly dramatic consequences” for counterespionage and terrorism investigations conducted on U.S. soil. But Steve Shapiro, national legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, rejected the government’s argument that GPS tracking does not invade personal privacy because it follows a suspect while he or she is out in public.
      “In a 21st century digital age, we can no longer think of privacy in binary terms,” Shapiro said at the ACLU’s annual preview session. “We have to think of privacy in a more nuanced way.”
      In a second case, Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, 10-945 (argument: Oct. 12), a New Jersey man arrested in error after a traffic stop is challenging the policy at two county jails of strip-searching all detainees even if held for minor offenses. The Third Circuit in Philadelphia, differing from some other circuits, upheld the policy on grounds of prison security.
      The fleeting expletives case, Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 10-1293 (argument: expected in January), stems from the FCC’s appeal of a Third Circuit ruling striking down as unconstitutionally vague its 2004 policy of penalizing even a single use of a vulgarism. The case involves proposed penalties on stations for prime-time broadcasts in which the entertainer Cher and the reality show celebrity Nicole Richie uttered taboo words. The Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that the FCC had a sufficient basis for adopting the strict anti-indecency policy, but sent the case back to the Third Circuit for a ruling on its constitutionality.
      The justices open the term on Monday with a seemingly technical case, Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, 09-958 (argument: Oct. 3), with potential stakes for interest groups of all stripes. Health care providers and Medicaid beneficiaries are challenging California’s decision to reduce reimbursements under the joint federal-state program. The plaintiffs argue the cuts are preempted by federal law.
      The Ninth Circuit allowed the suits to proceed, but the government says the Medicaid law does not permit enforcement by private parties. Interest groups ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the ACLU and NAACP Legal Defense Fund have filed friend-of-the-court briefs on the plaintiffs’ side, fearing the potential ramifications of a decision limiting private suits.
      Todd Garland, CQ Press legal intern, contributed to this story.

      On the Web: The U.S. Supreme Court provides docket information on cases: The private SCOTUSBlog provides comprehensive coverage of pending cases, including links to all briefs: The ACA litigation blog has comprehensive information about challenges to the Affordable Care Act:

Weekly Roundup 9/26/2011

Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?
Mark Bittman, The New York Times, Sept. 25, 2011

Synopsis: People eat junk food from fast-food restaurants because it’s cheap, right? Wrong, says Bittman, the New York Times’ food and nutrition op-ed columnist. “In general, despite extensive government subsidies, hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home,” he writes. Example: $28 for happy meals for four at McDonalds; $14 for roast chicken and veggies for four at home (or $9 for rice and beans). And, with more calories, junk food is contributing to the obesity epidemic.

Takeaway: Bittman advocates cultural and political changes: celebrate “real food” in family settings and agitate to limit the marketing of junk food.

For background on food and nutrition issues, see these CQ Researcher reports: Peter Katel, “Food Safety,” Dec. 17, 2010,; Marcia Clemmitt, “Global Food Crisis,” June 27, 2008,; and Sarah Glazer, “Slow Food Movement,” Jan. 26, 2007,

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


The Shame of College Sports
Taylor Branch, The Atlantic, Oct. 2011

Synopsis: Civil-rights historian Taylor Branch lays out a compelling, detailed history of the NCAA. The system that dubs college players “amateurs” and “student-athletes” – and reaps billions for colleges, TV networks and professional sports franchises while many players get, at most, watered-down degrees for their pains -- was corrupt and unjust from the start and should be dismantled, Branch argues.

Takeaway: The term “student-athlete” came into play “in the 1950s, when the widow of Ray Dennison, who had died from a head injury received while playing football in Colorado for the Fort Lewis A&M Aggies, filed for workmen’s-compensation death benefits. Did his football scholarship make the fatal collision a ‘work-related’ accident? Was he a school employee, like his peers who worked part-time as teaching assistants and bookstore cashiers? Or was he a fluke victim of extracurricular pursuits? Given the hundreds of incapacitating injuries to college athletes each year, the answers to these questions had enormous consequences. “The Colorado Supreme Court ultimately agreed with the school’s contention that he was not eligible for benefits, since the college was ‘not in the football business.’ The term student-athlete was deliberately ambiguous. College players were not students at play (which might understate their athletic obligations), nor were they just athletes in college (which might imply they were professionals). That they were high-performance athletes meant they could be forgiven for not meeting the academic standards of their peers; that they were students meant they did not have to be compensated, ever, for anything more than the cost of their studies.”

For more, see Tom Price, “Reforming Big-Time College Sports,” CQ Researcher, March 19, 2004,; and Kenneth Jost, “Professional Football,” Jan. 29, 2010,

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


A Brutal Afghan Clan Bedevils the U.S.
Mark Mazzetti, Scott Shane and Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times, Sept. 25, 2011

Synopsis: Just when you probably thought things couldn’t get much worse in Afghanistan, the Times, in a front-page, above-the-fold story on Sunday draws the curtain on “the Sopranos of the Afghanistan war, a ruthless crime family that built an empire out of kidnapping, extortion, smuggling, even trucking.”

Takeaway: The Haqqani crime empire is an Islamist force that acts as Pakistan’s proxy and will remain influential and destabilizing after American forces depart.

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor

This Week’s Report: “Military Suicides”

Almost a decade after the United States went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, suicides among active-duty soldiers and veterans are rising sharply, and military leaders are struggling to help service members cope with the pressures of deployment, combat and military life in general. Yet, as CQ Researcher staff writer Peter Katel notes in this week’s report, “Military Suicides,” experts view the government’s grasp of the problem as “uncoordinated” and inadequate. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has come under especially harsh criticism from politicians, judges and veterans’ families for what they say have been insufficient steps to help service members get counseling and other aid. The suicide problem is “spiraling out of control,” Tom Tarantino, senior legislative associate for the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told Katel. This important report is especially relevant for classes and papers on current events, government policy, military history, public administration and suicide prevention.

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor

Weekly Roundup 9/19/2011

Ever-increasing tax benefits for U.S. families eclipse benefits for special interests
Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post, Sept. 18, 2011

Synopsis: With President Obama set to announce a tax increase for millionaires as part of a plan to rewrite the U.S. tax code, Post congressional correspondent Lori Montgomery details the costly tax benefits that flow not mainly to corporations but to middle-class families. Tax breaks such as the exemption for employer-provided health insurance and the deduction for home mortgage interest cost the government more than $1 trillion a year; corporate tax breaks total only $93.5 billion. The number of broad tax breaks has nearly doubled since the last major rewrite of the tax code in 1986, Montgomery writes. And many are considered politically untouchable.

Takeaway: “The big money is in the middle-class subsidies,” an economist told Montgomery. “You’re not going to balance the budget by eliminating ethanol credits. You have to go after things that really matter to a lot of people.”

For CQ Researcher coverage of related issues, see Marcia Clemmitt, “National Debt,” March 18, 2011,; Kenneth Jost, “Campaign Finance Debates,” May 28, 2010,; and Thomas J. Billitteri, “Middle-Class Squeeze,” March 6, 2009,

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


Rick Perry, Uber Texan
Gail Collins, The New York Times, Sunday Review, Sept. 18, 2011

Synopsis: By any definition, Rick Perry is a piece of work. To put a finer point on it: He’s a West Texas piece of work, and that’s saying somethin.’ (I’ve been there, my wife’s people are from there, so I know a little about the breed.) It’s a good bet that we are going to be hearing a lot about Rick Perry in the months ahead, and one way to begin learning about him is by reading clever writer extraordinaire (and card-carrying liberal) Gail Collins, the former editorial editor of The Times. Life revolves around Texas, Collins notes, and, correspondingly, about belittling the federal government. Collins writes: “We have had several Texas presidents, but none so deeply, intensely Texas as this guy would be. (Walking on the stage with the other debate candidates, Perry is so much broader of chest and squarer of shoulder and straighter of spine than the rest of the pack that he looks as if he might have been stuffed.) Dwight Eisenhower, who was born in Texas, moved out before he was 2. Lyndon Johnson had long since become a man of Washington when he entered the White House, though he worried that Northerners would make fun of his twang — which they sort of did. George H. W. Bush was basically an Easterner who had moved to Texas for his job. His son was much more of a Texas product, but his parents sent W. off to boarding school to erase some of the evidence.”

Takeaway: Collins notes “the real question isn’t how Texas is doing but whether Perry’s experience there has led him to think about the federal government at all, except as a sinister force that can be identified as the villain when anything goes wrong.”
She ends by commenting: “Having an interest in national government that’s mainly limited to disliking it might work fine if you’re the governor of a state that has always regarded itself as “low-tax, low-service” anyway. It’s a little more problematic if you’re the guy in charge of keeping the dollar stable, the food supply safe and the national defense ready.

We could live with a president who named his boots ‘Freedom’ and ‘Liberty.’

“Not sure about one who has contempt for the job he’s running for.”

For related coverage, see Kenneth Jost, “Campaign Finance Debates,” CQ Researcher, May 28, 2010,; and Thomas J. Billitteri, “Government and Religion,” CQ Researcher, Jan. 15, 2010,

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor


Bubble Boys
Christopher Beam, New York Times Magazine, Sept. 11, 2011

Synopsis: Just like in ancient times – in Information-Age terms, that’s the 1960s and ‘70s – young computer hackers today spend countless hours trying to turn their individual passions into high-functioning software code. And that hobbyist mindset may still be one of the best resources for achieving advances in computer technology, even in the days of mega-companies like Microsoft and Apple. Having just finished my report on “Computer Hacking,” I’m fascinated by the complex changes in our world that the digital age may be accomplishing almost entirely without our notice. This piece provides an intriguing window into the widening opportunities for invention that a networked digital world provides for the most technologically savvy among us.

Takeaway: “Coding isn’t about making money or scratching some OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder] itch. It’s about doing what you love and, yes, changing the world. Engineers shopping their talents talk about impact; they say they want to work wherever their contribution will make the most people happiest…. The result is that in order to recruit young talent, companies try to seem smaller while getting bigger.” Google, for example, “seduces free spirits by famously letting employees spend 20 percent of their time on projects they are passionate about—some of which turn into major Google products, such as Google News and Gmail.”

For more, see my Sept. 15 report, “Computer Hacking,”

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


Coming Apart
George Packer, The New Yorker, Sept. 12, 2011

Packer, a staff writer for the magazine who covered the early years of the Iraq War, has produced the most original take on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 that I’ve seen. The site of his reporting is the town of Mount Airy, N.C., known to many vintage TV fans as the inspiration for Mayberry, the fictional site of the endearing “Andy Griffith Show.” Now, Packer writes, the town has become another deindustrialization site, its textile mills closed, its population down and its remaining citizens desperate for work. A sizeable number of them are veterans, Packer notes. Job hopes soared when an ex-military contractor in Iraq opened a factory to upgrade Humvees with armor – to shield troops from the roadside bombs that Pentagon planners hadn’t foreseen. The contractor’s design got high marks, Packer reports, but Congress and the Defense Department still haven’t issued any contracts to re-armor existing Humvees. And the Mount Airy company can’t afford the contingent of lobbyists his competitors can deploy. For Packer, the tale reflects a massive failure of the Bush administration to mobilize the country to fight the post-9/11 wars. “Without a draft,” he writes, “the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been fought by less than 1 per cent of the population. The Pentagon, which wanted to keep those wars limited and short, avoided planning for large-scale manufacturing, even after its necessity became obvious.” The Obama administration has only belatedly awoken to the need to offer employers incentives to hire vets, Packer writes. His tone throughout resonates with barely restrained anger.

For background on some of the issues Packer examines, see: Kenneth Jost, “Remembering 9/11,” CQ Researcher, Sept. 2, 2011, pp. 701-732,
; Peter Katel, “Reviving Manufacturing,” CQ Researcher, July 22, 2011, pp. 601-624,

--Peter Katel, Staff Writer

This Week's Report: "Computer Hacking"

Staff writer Marcia Clemmitt delves into the secretive worlds of computer hacking and cyber crime in this week’s CQ Researcher report. Malicious cyber attacks are causing billions of dollars in damage per year to corporate, government, military and other computer systems, and hacking skills are in rising demand as tech companies and police try to fight back, Marcia reports. “Ironically…,” she writes, “the only way to thwart the attacks is to hire people possessing many of the same technical skills and personality traits as the perpetrators. The trick, though, is to hire hackers who want to do good rather than ill.”

One telling fact: One computer-security company finds that in just three months of Web surfing, the average computer user has a 95 percent chance of visiting a site infected by malicious software. Technology classes and students writing papers on cyber ethics and online security will find this report of special interest.

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor

Weekly Roundup 9/12/2011

The 9/11 Decade: Three views

The 9/11 Decade
The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 10, 2011

Don’t underestimate what America has achieved since 9/11
The Washington Post, Sept. 11, 2011

Get smarter on security
Los Angeles Times, Sept. 11, 2011

Synopsis: The 10th anniversary of Al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2011, attacks on the United States prompted an outpouring of remembrances of that awful day and analyses and commentaries of the decade since. In editorials, three of the nation’s leading newspapers offer differing views. The Wall Street Journal praises the Bush administration’s “serious and sustained response,” including the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that the newspaper credits with producing much of the intelligence collected about al Qaeda; it credits President Obama with carry having preserved “the most part” of the Bush policies. The Washington Post acknowledges “some truth” to the critique of U.S. policy as an “overreaction,” but it sees “no large-scale assault on personal freedoms” and finds achievements overall outweighed mistakes. But the Los Angeles Times says the country has done “some things” right and “many things” wrong and has been “remarkably disinclined to learn from our mistakes.”

In addition to their regular daily news coverage, both the New York Times and Washington Post published special 9/11 sections on terrorist attacks.

For CQ Researcher coverage, see my report “Remembering 9/11” (Sept. 2) and the 9/11-related reports cited at the end,

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


The Last Moderate
Joe Nocera, The New York Times, Sept. 5, 2011

Synopsis: Veteran Blue Dog Dem Rep. Jim Cooper, Tenn., a House member since 1982, mostly blames former Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., for the era of intransigence that’s gradually taken over Congress since the mid-1990s. As House speaker, Gingrich ushered in an era of party unity and lockstep legislating that led directly to today’s take-no-prisoners “Lord of the Flies”-style congressional battles, Cooper argues. Emblematic of the change is the fact that, in the past, each party introduced multiple versions of legislation on hot issues, leading to both intra- and inter-party debate on which provisions to approve. Under Gingrich, Republicans were expected to unite immediately in support of a single, ideologically focused bill – and battle to the death for its passage in full. Today, both parties take this tack, greatly diminishing the complexity of legislative debate and the possibilities for compromise.

Takeaway: “Gingrich was a new kind of speaker: deeply partisan and startlingly power-hungry,” Nocera writes. As Cooper recalls, “ ‘His first move was to get rid of the Democratic Study Group, which analyzed bills and was so trusted that Republicans as well as Democrats relied on it. This was his way of preventing us from knowing what we were voting on. Today, the ignorance around here is staggering. Nobody has any idea what they’re voting on.’”

For more, see my report on “Gridlock in Washington,” April 30, 2010,; Peter Katel’s “Democrats’ Future,” Oct. 29, 2010,, and “Tea Party Movement,” March 19, 2010,; and Alan Greenblatt’s “Future of the GOP,” March 20, 2009,

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


Christopher Hitchens: A Man of His Words
Bill Keller, The New York Times, Sept. 9, 2011

“Christopher Hitchens: A Man of His Words”
A review of Hitchens’s new book, “Arguably”

Synopsis: Bill Keller’s writing is simply sublime, and the essays by the prolific Hitchens – “who writes as fast as some people talk”-- are mind-boggling in their scope and erudition. Keller is the former executive editor of the Times who stepped down to become an op-ed columnist and writer for the Times’ Magazine. As Keller writes: “Anyone who occasionally opens one of our more serious periodicals has learned that the byline of Christopher Hitchens is an opportunity to be delighted or maddened — possibly both — but in any case not to be missed. He is our intellectual omnivore, exhilarating and infuriating, if not in equal parts at least with equal wit.” Hitchens, the feisty, hard-drinking Brit who became a U.S. citizen, is fighting what is likely a losing battle with esophageal cancer, and this may be his last book.

Takeaway: If you are familiar with Hitchens, just read it; you know what I’m talkin’ about. If you’re new to Hitchens (or Keller), read it. That’s an order. You’ll thank me.

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor


The Buck Stays Here
Daniel W. Drezner, Foreign Policy, Sept. 7, 2011

Synopsis: The 2008 financial meltdown and the recent political meltdown in Washington have many questioning the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. Some banks have predicted that the Chinese yuan will rival the dollar sometime within the next decade.

Takeaway: The obstacles to shifting away from the dollar are formidable. The amount of official dollar currency reserves in the world and the frequency of international transactions using the dollar confirm that the dollar by far surpasses any other currency in providing a medium of exchange. Thus, the dollar doesn’t seem to be fading anytime soon.

For background see Peter Behr’s CQ Global Researcher report “The Troubled Dollar” (subscription required),

--Darrell Dela Rosa, Assistant Editor

This Week's Report: Extreme Weather

This week’s CQ Researcher report, “Extreme Weather,” comes on the heels of Hurricane Irene, which ravaged the Eastern Seaboard – particularly New England – and, according to experts, ranks among the costliest catastrophes in U.S. history. The United States has endured a drumbeat of severe weather in recent months: massive floods along the Mississippi River; deadly tornadoes, including one that devastated Joplin, Mo.; blinding blizzards in the Midwest and New England, and drought conditions in the Southwest that have led to catastrophic wildfires in Texas. Why all this is happening is a matter of debate among scientists. Some point directly to human-induced global warming as the reason. Others caution that while warming is real, no definitive link exists between it and, for instance, the hurricanes and tornadoes we’ve been seeing. That robust debate plays out in our pro/con “At Issue” between scientists Jay Gulledge of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and Richard A. Muller of the University of California, Berkeley. This report may be a good entry point for discussions or papers on climate change, environmental history and the economics of natural disasters.

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor

Weekly Roundup 9/6/2011

Top Secret America: A look at the military’s Joint Special Operations Command
Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, The Washington Post, Sept. 4, 2011

Synopsis: The team of U.S. Navy SEALS who took out Osama bin Laden was part of the military’s Joint Special Operations Command – known by the acronym JSOC – that has grown tenfold over the past decade in near complete obscurity. Priest, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner with the Post, and Arkin, a Post columnist and reporter, detail the expanded role that this elite force has played in capturing, imprisoning or killing suspected terrorists. JSOC has grown, they write, from “a rarely used hostage rescue team into America’s secret army.”

Takeaway: “We’re the dark matter,” an unidentified Navy SEAL is quoted as saying. “We’re the force that orders the universe but can’t be seen.”

Note: The article is excerpted from Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State by Priest and Arkin, being published Sept. 6 by Little Brown. A four-part series that formed part of the basis of the book was published by the Post in 2010.

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


Europeans Talk of Sharp Change in Fiscal Affairs
Louise Story and Matthew Saltmarsh, The New York Times, Sept. 5, 2011

Synopsis: America’s failed early effort to operate as a loose confederation of 13 states appears increasingly relevant for many officials in Europe. They are beginning to realize – as experts suggested in our May 17 CQ Global Researcher -- that the lack of strong central coordination of economic policies in the eurozone’s member states is a major reason why Europe has been unable to resolve its financial crisis.

Takeaway: Europe’s leaders appear to be inching closer to a more centralized approach, with some even saying so publicly. “If today’s policy makers want to successfully stay the course, they will have to press ahead with structural changes and deeper economic integration,” António Borges, director of the International Monetary Fund’s European unit, said in a recent speech. “To put the crisis behind us, we need more Europe, not less. And we need it now.”

See Sarah Glazer, “Future of the Euro,” CQ Global Researcher, May 17, 2011 (subscription required).

--Kathy Koch, Managing Editor, CQ Global Researcher


What the Left Doesn't Understand About Obama
Jonathan Chait, The New York Times Magazine, Sept. 4, 2011

Chait pushes back at the consensus view taking hold among members of President Barack Obama's eroding base. Increasingly, Obama's left-wing and liberal supporters argue that he is allowing himself to be overwhelmed by a more determined Republican opposition. Drew Westen, an Emory University psychologist and political consultant, had summed up that embittered position in a widely read piece in The New York Times last month. Now Chait, an editor of The New Republic - a venerable liberal weekly - takes apart the critique, finding it long on indignation and short on reality. Obama has consistently wrung as much economic stimulus and relief as he can from recalcitrant Republican lawmakers, Chait writes. He acknowledges in passing that he too wanted Obama to call Republicans' bluff during the debt-ceiling showdown -- forcing them to confront the risk of pushing the world into financial meltdown. But Obama's compromise did make economic recovery a priority, Chait argues. He does notdirectly address another source of disillusionment: Obama's seeming lack of enthusiasm for political combat. But Chait does insist that unhappy Democrats focus on the nuts and bolts of legislating and policy-making. Still, he concedes that emotion can overwhelm analytical rigor.

--Peter Katel, Staff Writer


Letter from Prison: Tim DeChristopher Speaks
Tim DeChristopher, Grist, Aug. 29, 2011

Synopsis: From environmental activist and convicted felon Tim DeChristopher come interesting musings on the power of political protest. DeChristopher was sentenced this summer to two years in federal prison after he disrupted an oil and gas leasing auction in 2009 to protest drilling on public lands.

Takeaway: “As is generally the case with civil disobedience, it was extremely important to the government that I come before the majesty of the court with my head bowed and express regret. So important, in fact, that an apology with proper genuflection is currently fair trade for a couple years in prison…But perhaps we should be asking why the government is willing to make such a deal….By its very nature, civil disobedience is an act whose message is that the government and its laws are not the sole voice of moral authority….Government whose authority depends on an ignorant or apathetic citizenry is threatened by every act of open civil disobedience, no matter how small. To regain that tiny piece of authority, the government either has to respond to the activist’s demands, or get the activist to back down with a public statement of regret. Otherwise, those little challenges to the moral authority of government start to add up.”

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


The Survivor Who Saw the Future
Susanne Craig, The New York Times, Sept. 3, 2011

Synopsis: When American Airlines Flight 11 hit the north tower of the World Trade Center, three out of every four people who worked for Howard W. Lutnick at the brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald died – a total of 658 employees. Lutnick survived; he was taking his son Kyle to his first day of kindergarten. Four days after the attack, Lutnick, who was shown crying on television, cut off payments to the families of his dead and missing employees, before it was known conclusively how many had died. Critics at the time called Lutnick’s actions disgusting and hard-hearted. They scoffed when he promised to give 25 percent of Cantor’s profits over the next five years to employees, and to provide health insurance coverage to families for 10 years. Cantor’s demise was widely predicted.

Takeaway: Lutnick, now 50, defied the critics. Ten years later, he has rebuilt his firm, and enlarged it, in fact. And many of his critics -- especially parents and spouses of employees who had died – now say he did the right thing. And yes, he kept his promises. “By almost any measure,” writes Susanne Craig, “it is a remarkable turnabout.”

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor


9/11 in Perspective
Richard N. Haass, Al Jazeera, Sept. 6, 2011

Synopsis: The 9/11 attacks were a tragedy by any measure, writes the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, but they were not a historical turning point in which terrorists with a global agenda prevailed. Instead, the most notable developments have between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, globalization and the upheavals in the Middle East.

Takeaway: It would be wrong for responsible governments to make opposition to terrorism the centerpiece of any agenda. Terrorists, as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 shows, remain outliers at best.

--Darrell Dela Rosa, Assistant Editor

CQR Report, "Remembering 9/11"

CQ Researcher is publishing a special 32-page report this week titled “Remembering 9/11,” and I invite you take a look at it. Associate Editor Ken Jost is the author. The report examines a wide range of issues related to the terrorist attacks a decade ago – whether the U.S. has done enough to prevent new attacks, whether liberty has been sacrificed for safety over the past decade, whether Al Qaeda remains a substantial threat, how 9/11 is being memorialized, and much more. The report includes two chronologies and four sidebars, including a profile of a survivor and an overview of memorials open or planned in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, plus a graphic detailing casualties in the three attacks. Sidebars by Staff Writer Peter Katel and Assistant Editor Darrell Dela Rosa round out the package. Ken visited Ground Zero in August and took four of the photos used in the report. He put many extra hours into shaping, reporting and writing this report, and I congratulate him on his excellent work.

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor