Weekly Roundup 4/30/2012

Marc Fisher, The Washington Post, April 29, 2012

Synopsis: The Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 have been followed by Islamist revivals in the three countries with the most profound changes: Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. In an in-depth report on Tunisia, Fisher finds that confrontations between Islamists and secular Tunisians are occurring almost daily and that the disagreements often pit parents against children and siblings against each other.

Takeaway: The secular-minded head of Tunisia’s constitutional assembly says one side “wants progress” and the other “wants to go back in time.” But one young Islamist says the country must adopt sharia law or Islamists will resort to violence.
For background, see the following CQ Researcher reports: “Youth Unemployment,” March 6, 2012;  “Future of the Gulf States,” Nov. 1, 2011; “Turmoil in the Arab World," May 3, 2011; “Middle East Peace,” Jan. 21, 2005;   and “Rising Food Prices,” Global Researcher, Oct. 18, 2011.           

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


Monica Hesse, The Washington Post, April 26, 2012

Synopsis: The headline on the version of this piece that I saw in the Sunday paper made the point better: “Food for thought on the oft-uttered proposition that ignorance displayed via social media shows that we’re a less informed culture than we used to be. Is that a valid conclusion, based on numerous recent tweets that ask who Dick Clark was and whether the Titanic was a real boat? Hesse thinks not.

Takeaway: “We were stupid before the Internet. We just didn’t know how stupid we were. Or at least we didn’t archive it.”

For more on digital-age culture, see our Sept. 24, 2010, report, “Impact of the Internet on Thinking,” and our Aug. 1, 2008, report, “Internet Accuracy.”

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


Frank Bruni, The New York Times, April 30, 2012

Synopsis:  Last week’s debate in Congress focused on raising the interest rate on college loans to 6.8 percent. But the concern about college goes beyond its cost.  College once used to be a virtual guarantor of a good job and rosy future. But no more -- not even for the kids whose parents can afford to send them. Once, as Bruni puts it: “A diploma wasn’t a piece of paper. It was an amulet.”
Takeaway: Now just going to college isn’t enough – it’s important to pick your course of study wisely. Bruni calls “for government and university incentives to steer students into the fields of studies that will serve them and society best. We use taxes to influence behavior. Why not student aid?” he asks.

For background, see, “The Value of a College Education,” CQ Researcher, Nov. 20, 2009.

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor