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Friday, November 20, 2009

Summer and Autumn Duck

With the exception of my Nobel entry here, it's been a long time since I mentioned my posts at the international relations (IR) group blog, Duck of Minerva.

Tuesday, November 10, I posted "Syria updates," which focused on news about the alleged Israeli bombing of a Syrian nuclear facility in September 2007.

October 29, I blogged "Nuclear news" about Obama administration changes in U.S. nuclear declaratory policy -- and in planned arms deployments.

September 23, I posted "The legitimacy of America's wars," comparing the status of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

September 15, you can find "Reading Fareed," which is my take on Fareed Zakaria's latest book The Post-American World. 

My August 17 post was about "The IR Analogy." Viewed from the perspective of international politics, American domestic politics is topsy-turvy -- placing vast power in the hands of small states and minimizing the importance of large affluent states with big populations. 

August 4, I posted a video highlighting the end of the Bush era -- "Better When French."

"Desertification between the rivers" was the topic of my July 30 post. It concerns an ecological crisis Iraq faces.


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Climate updates: fall edition

This personal blog has not been updated for a week, but that doesn't mean I have abandoned the blogosphere. These are the most recent entries on my Climate Politics: IR and the Environment blog hosted at e-IR. The last update covered late summer.


Brazil
November 16, 2009
Will a new climate agreement require developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (ghgs)? Will developing states agree to make reductions? In this post, let’s consider the prospects for Brazil agreeing to such reductions.

First however, keep in mind the history. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed at the Rio Earth Summit in 199…Read more


Interim Deal?
November 13, 2009
The Copenhagen climate summit is now less than one month away and observers are not optimistic that states will agree to a deal cementing either specific greenhouse gas emission reductions or increased environmental assistance to the developing world so they can meet the standards without threatening growth vital to fighting poverty.

Last month, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lo…Read more

Hidden costs of the status quo
November 1, 2009
In late October, the United States National Academy of Sciences released an interesting on-line “prepublication” edition of a report called Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use. The October 19 New York Times reported the key finding on the costs of air pollution from burning fossil fuels:

Burning fossil fuels costs the Unite…Read more

Copenhagen: Will a deal emerge?
October 24, 2009
This past week, the news related to the ongoing climate negotiations was quite confusing. On Monday the 19th of October, the BBC reported optimistically:

“It’s an uphill battle, but I just feel today it’s more do-able than (I did) yesterday,” Mr Miliband [UK climate secretary] told journalists in a briefing directly after the MEF meeting closed on Mon…Read more

ICE
October 15, 2009
Do you remember when I mentioned “Greenfinger” on this blog a couple of months ago? Greenfinger would be a rich master environmental criminal — perhaps pursuing climate geoengineering without international approval.

In the October Atlantic Monthly, representatives of the ICE Coalition wrote to the editors to offer a legal solution to the potential Green…Read more

Washington’s 2-level-game
October 6, 2009
This past weekend, Carol Browner, Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy proclaimed that the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade climate bill (which passed the House this summer) is not going to become law prior to the upcoming climate negotiations. The NYT :

“Obviously, we’d like to be through the process,” Carol Browner said durin…Read more


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Friday, November 06, 2009

Senators against (Political) Science

Yesterday, the United States Senate voted down the so-called "Coburn amendment," which would have eliminated National Science Foundation support for research in the field of Political Science. Actually, I'm being polite. The resolution offered by the Republican from Oklahoma used this wording:
"Coburn Amendment 2631 – Prohibits the National Science Foundation from wasting federal research funding on political science projects."
Tough stuff.

The Senate defeated this amendment 62-36.

Locally, citizens are represented by Senators who side with Coburn. Mitch McConnell (a Political Science graduate of my Department) voted Yea, as did Jim Bunning and Indiana's Dick Lugar and Evan Bayh. All of those Senators are Republicans, except for Bayh.

John McCain, who is about to make an appearance at University of Louisville, voted with the losers to kill NSF funding to Political Science. Perhaps someone in the packed house can ask him about his vote.

On October 19, the President of the American Political Science Association, Henry E. Brady, outlined his organization's case against the Coburn amendment:
Senator Coburn’s amendment stems from a mistaken belief that political science research is neither scientific nor contributes to the well-being of our nation and its citizens. Science does not come in degrees; it is not logically possible for one science to be “truer” than another. Political science is a “science” because like all the sciences its research methods are based on testable hypotheses and evidence collected according to well-tested criteria that are subject to peer review and verification. The National Science Foundation has led the way in ensuring careful peer review and in applying the highest scholarly standards to all areas of research, including political science.

Political science funding at the National Science Foundation is a remarkably modest amount of funds – just some $9 million. It generates transformative results vastly beyond this small investment. Basic political science research funded by the National Science Foundation has contributed to the nation in myriad ways. Just last week, Dr. Elinor Ostrom, a political scientist at Indiana University, was awarded a Nobel Prize for research funded by the National Science Foundation. She found that collective use problems such as the overuse of shared resources and the degradation of water quality can be effectively handled by local communities rather than by relying exclusively on the central government.

Similarly, 13 of the 17 National Science Foundation and Department of Defense co-supported projects requested by Secretary Gates that examine threats to U.S. interests in the world and identify effective responses, are being carried out by political scientists.

The U.S. National Election Study, also supported by the National Science Foundation’s political science program, has operated since 1948 and is the only reliable, sustained source of information about Americans’ participation in their own political system. The National Election Study has provided assistance to government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the Elections Assistance Commission. Pollsters of all political persuasions have supported the ANES over the years because it provides the only reliable baseline for long-term trends and for innovative thinking about how to measure political participation and involvement.

Other political science research is helping federal, state, and local authorities charged with developing effective evacuation plans understand decisions that citizens make in response to natural disasters.

Still other research has helped identify the causes of ethnic strife and civil wars, the impacts of different electoral institutions around the world, and the causes of international disagreements and wars.
Disclosure: I'm a member of the APSA -- and have participated in selection processes and events pertaining to the McConnell Center.


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Thursday, November 05, 2009

College Athletic Costs: Louisville

The University if California at Berkeley, like many other universities, is facing a severe budget crisis. With a $150 million shortfall, the school has cut faculty salaries, closed the Library on Saturdays, and reduced course offerings.

Some members of the University's progressive faculty want to take another tough step -- cut spending on Athletics:
"With dozens and dozens of cuts to its academic programs, is it not obvious that UC Berkeley must cease putting millions into a program which isn't part of the core academic mission and is supposed to be self-supporting? It's just a matter of priorities," said Brian Barsky, a computer science professor who has been leading the "Academics First" camp.

He's among eight professors who will present a resolution tonight urging Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to stop campus subsidies immediately, or as soon as contractually possible.
Cal is currently slated to transfer nearly $14 million total to Athletics over the next two years.

That got me thinking about budget shortfalls at University of Louisville -- and potential cash transfers from the school to sports. The most recent Athletic Association Financial Statement is from 2008:
The University, during its annual budgetary process, agrees to transfer funds to the Association to assist with expense related to retention and gender issues. The University transferred $2.1 million and $1.8 million for the fiscal years ended June 30, 2008 and 2007. Additionally, the University collects certain fees from students designated for use by the Association. The University transferred $1.9 million of student fees collected for each of the years ended June 30, 3008 [sic] and 2007.
In 2008, it appears as if the University gave Athletics $4 million. A USA Today story from February 2004 reported that the University had imposed a tuition increase to provide $3 million to Athletics at the time, so the higher figure sounds about right.

Athletic supporters might note the "retention and gender" benefits the University is allegedly getting from half the money, but my guess is that UofL could get a lot more bang in those areas with bucks spent elsewhere. Also, the Athletic Department is mandated by law to produce gender equity -- and pressured by the NCAA to care about retention and graduation rates. They have to be paid to meet the standards?

I'm a fan of college sports, but I do not think the University should be paying millions of dollars to Athletics in a time of budget crisis. Basketball coach Rick Pitino makes $2.25 million annually. Reportedly, his salary will retroactively become $2.5 million/season if he stays until the end of his contract in 2013.

The University has an enrollment of about 21,000 students. Each and every one of them pays about $90 in annual tuition and fees to Rick Pitino and the rest of the Athletic Department every year. That accounts for $1.9 million of UofL spending.

As for the other $2.1 million, faculty have not seen a salary increase in more than two years. If the University had used that money to raise faculty salaries, each of the roughly 1000 full-time tenured or tenure track faculty would have $2100 higher income this year, less taxes and benefits.

During that two-year period, Coach Pitino received a $600,000 annual raise.

I realize that Pitino is a family man with five children, and he led the men's basketball team to a great season and top seed in the NCAA hoops tournament, but football coach Steve Kragthorpe is making a $1.1 million base during a third consecutive mediocre (or worse) season.


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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Monday, November 02, 2009

Top-ranked Kansas

The pre-season college basketball polls agree that the Kansas Jayhawks are this year's team-to-beat for the national championship. The team is ranked #1 by both AP and ESPN/USA Today. It appears as if Kansas received 55 of 65 first-place votes in AP and 27 of 31 in the ESPN/USAT poll. I'm really looking forward to watching preseason All-Americans C Cole Aldrich and G Sherron Collins, as well as the rest of the team.

Michigan State and Texas are #2 and #3, respectively, in both polls. AP has Kentucky and Villanova rounding out the top 5, while the other poll has North Carolina and Kentucky. UNC is 6th in AP, Villanova is 6th in ESPN/USAT. Purdue is 7th in both polls, followed by West Virginia (8/9) and Duke (9/8), then Tennessee (10/11) and Butler (11/10).

Louisville is ranked 19th by AP and 23 by ESPN/USAT.

Maryland is 26th if both polls.

Rock chalk!!


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