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Swarthmore in the News July 8, 2011

Note: This is a double issue.


Midland Reporter-Telegram (TX)

By Rich Lowry, King Features Syndicate

July 6, 2011

There are few things more inescapable in American life than the TV screen.

...Ben Berger of Swarthmore College notes that in 1950 less than 10 percent of U.S. households owned a television. Today, in the average American household, TVs outnumber people. ...As of 2009, we were watching more TV than ever -- on average, more than five hours a day. (Which makes you wonder: How does that leave any time to play video games?)

This inexorable trend mostly serves the cause of sloth, stupidity and superficiality. "Television," Berger writes, "makes us fat, lazy, inattentive, unsociable, mistrustful, materialistic -- and unhappy about all of that. It cheapens political discourse, weakens family ties, prevents face-to-face socializing, and exposes kids to sex and inures them to violence." Besides that, it's a boon to its viewers.

...Berger cites a 2010 study from Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine that found that among toddlers "every additional hour of television exposure" eventually means decreases in "classroom engagement ... math achievement ... time spent doing weekend physical activity ... and activities involving physical effort," and increases in "victimization by classmates ... consumption scores for soft drinks and snacks ... and body mass index." The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends that kids 2 and younger avoid TV -- and everything else on a screen -- altogether. ...

Business Wire

Alvarez & Marsal Names Ernest Brod to Head Firm's Business Intelligence Services;
Edward Frost Also Named Senior Director, Augmenting A&M Capabilities in Global Forensics and Disputes

July 6. 2011

Global professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) has announced that Ernest Brod has joined the firm to build its Business Intelligence Services , expanding A&M's world-class forensics and dispute services practice and significantly augmenting its capabilities in handling complex corporate investigations. In addition, Edward Frost has joined the firm as a senior director in the Business Intelligence Services group. Both are based in New York. ...

Mr. Frost brings more than 30 years of experience, both as a private investigator and as a legal journalist, in gathering information and analyzing complex fact patterns through interviews, document research and other techniques. Prior to joining A&M, he managed his own investigations firm, and his recent engagements have included in-depth investigations that illuminated vulnerabilities of corporate raiders for companies that successfully fought hostile proxy fights; background investigations of expert witnesses; asset searches on potential defendants; and fact-gathering and witness development for clients pursuing consumer and securities fraud cases.

Previously, he was a partner in a corporate investigations firm in New York City that engaged in litigation support, pre-deal due diligence and investment intelligence for legal and financial firms. A graduate of Swarthmore College, he is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), as well as a licensed private investigator in New York and New Jersey.

Lessons in Democracy, Courtesy of 'True Blood'

By Clarissa Rappoport-Hankins

July 4, 2011

The vampire show's exploration of power structures is like a mini government text book, wrapped up in blood and fairy dust

Aside from all the sex and supernatural species, one of the most interesting elements of True Blood is its power structures-the vampire governmental structures, not the I've-got-sharp-teeth-and-you-don't power structures. Power relies on the memories of the people governing and being governed, and their ability to believe that it has been this way pretty much forever. Even on July 4th, celebrating Independence Day, Americans are all too young to remember the monarchy they broke free of, and so the fireworks and slogans are all celebrating a way of life that is already cemented into being. ...

But vampires are older, and the majority of them started life in feudal relationships and monarchical structures-and they continue to use them, regardless of what the young human societies get up to. ....Bill and his fellow believers in humane harvesting of blood infiltrated the monarchies, but it doesn't appear they intend to change the structures themselves, or even change their original uses very much. In fact, it is unclear which is having more effect on the other-Bill on the power structure, or the power structure on Bill. (more)...

Clarissa Rappoport-Hankins contributes to, mostly in the form of online ads and analytics reports. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia University's Publishing Institute and lives in Washington, D.C.


The Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Linguistics bemoan steady loss of many world dialects

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers

July 3, 2011

Ayapan, Mexico  Only two people on Earth are known to speak the Ayapanec language, Manuel Segovia and Isidro Velasquez, old men of few words who are somewhat indifferent to each other's company.

When Segovia and Velasquez pass away, their language also will go to the grave. It will mark the demise of a unique way of describing the lush landscape of southern Mexico, and thinking about the world.

Ayapanec isn't alone in its vulnerability. Some linguists say that languages are disappearing at the rate of two a month. Half of the world's remaining 7,000 or so languages may be gone by the end of this century, pushed into disuse by English, Spanish and other dominating languages.

The die-off has parallels to the extinction of animals. The death of a language, linguists say, robs humanity of ideas, belief systems and knowledge of the natural world. Languages are repositories of human experience that have evolved over centuries, even millennia.

"Languages are definitely more endangered than species, and are going extinct at a faster rate," said K. David Harrison, a linguist at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and the author of the book  When Languages Die.  "There are many hundreds of languages that have fewer than 50 speakers."

Hot spots for endangered languages may not be where you think. They include places such as Oklahoma, which holds the highest density of indigenous languages in the United States, partly because faraway tribes were forcibly relocated there in the 1800s; northern Australia, home to many small and scattered Aboriginal groups, and Central Siberia, which has 25 Turkic, Mongolic and other languages that face extinction. ...


The Edmonton Journal (Canada)

Hip-hop, texting may help save world's languages

By Tim Johnson, McClatchy Newspapers

July 3, 2011

In southern Chile, young speakers of Huilliche, a language that's in peril of extinction, produce hip-hop videos and post them on the Internet.

Across the globe in the Philippines, teenagers think it's "cool" to send mobile phone text messages in regional languages that show signs of endangerment, such as Kapampangan.

Technology, long considered a threat to regional languages, now is being seen as a way to keep young people from forsaking their native tongues for dominant languages. YouTube and Facebook, as well as Internet radio and cellphone texting, are helping minority language groups stave off death.

Linguist Samuel Herrera said he was elated to find teenagers zapping each other with text messages in Huave, an endangered language spoken only by about 15,000 people in the Tehuantepec region of Mexico, along the Pacific.

"This really strengthens the use of the language," said Herrera, who runs the linguistics laboratory at the Institute of Anthropological Research in the Mexican capital.

Gregory D.S. Anderson, the director of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages in Salem, Ore., agrees. Somewhere between the ages of 6 and 20 or 25, he said, "people make a definitive decision whether to break with the language."

"If the language isn't being used by their peer group, then they reject it categorically," he said.

Technology as simple as text messaging can draw them back. "That's exactly the hook for young people. They live in text, and they are the key stakeholders and the ones who may or may not pass it down to their own children," Anderson said.

The "cool" factor is helping to resuscitate Chulym, a nearly moribund Turkic language that's spoken by a dozen or so people in a pocket of remote Central Siberia, said Anderson, who's working to revive the language.

By offering teenagers in the community access to technology, "we have seen a significant increase in the desire among young people to try to learn the language from old people," Anderson said.

Anderson and his colleague, K. David Harrison, a Swarthmore College linguist, say hip-hop music is an effective tool to get young people interested in their ancestral tongues. They've posted hip-hop songs on a dedicated Enduring Voices YouTube channel in languages such as Huilliche, the endangered Chilean language, and Hruso-Aka, which is spoken in a remote northeastern corner of India.  ...


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Immigration law, 'Black Codes' not comparable

By Willoughby Mariano; Staff Writer

July 1, 2011

Opponents of Georgia's new immigration crackdown law are drawing ugly comparisons between it and infamous chapters of civil rights history.

Some are comparing the effects of House Bill 87 to segregation, saying it will turn Hispanics into second-class citizens. Former state Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown, a Democrat who recently resigned to run for mayor of Macon, hearkened back to Reconstruction in a June 2 news release.

"Georgia leaders should not attempt to satisfy Agribusiness interests by finding ways to selectively enforce what I am now calling the Brown Codes [HB 87], because of its similarity to the Black Codes passed in the 1800s," Brown said.

Southern states passed the "Black Codes" after the Civil War to force freed slaves back to the plantations. Is Georgia's HB 87 similar to them?

HB 87's more controversial provisions give law enforcement officers more leeway to check the immigration status of people they think violated the law. They also prohibit citizens from harboring, transporting or encouraging illegal immigrants to come into the state under certain circumstances.

The Black Codes are different from Jim Crow legislation, which segregated black people and white people. Enacted in former slave states right after the Civil War, the Black Codes tried to force ex-slaves back to their masters. ...

Swarthmore College professor Richard M. Valelly, an expert on Reconstruction, noted that illegal immigrants aren't in danger of being re-enslaved. They're at risk of deportation.

"That's Draconian ... but there's a big difference between de facto re-enslavement ... and being sucked into a system that regulates movement across borders," Valelly said.

Although scholars agree that the Black Codes and Georgia's new immigration law are very different, each one we interviewed saw one similarity.

The Black Codes stigmatized black folks. Georgia's law stigmatizes illegal immigrants.  ...


Congressional Documents and Publications

Christensen Congratulates Wilma Lewis on Senate Confirmation

July 1, 2011

Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen today congratulated Wilma Lewis on being confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next District Court Judge of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  "I was pleased to hear that Asst. Secretary Lewis was confirmed on Thursday by the Senate and will become the first woman to serve on the federal court bench in the U.S. Virgin Islands," Congresswoman Christensen said.

Congresswoman Christensen presented Lewis to the Senate Judiciary Committee back in May. Lewis, a native of St. Thomas, was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the federal bench. She was a member of the Obama administration serving as Asst. Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management of the Department of Interior. Her prior service includes U.S. Attorney for the District of Colombia.  She also was a partner in private law firms in the Washington, D.C. area.

Lewis was valedictorian of her All Saints Cathedral High School in 1974, graduated with honors from Swarthmore in political science in 1978 and from Harvard Law School in 1981. 


National Public Radio- Morning Edition

New CNN News Chief Takes Stock

July 1, 2011

Renee Montagne, host:

It's pretty easy to see the winning formula for networks like Fox News and MSNBC. They spend their evening hours stoking outrage from the political right and left, respectively. So what's the missing secret sauce at CNN that could bring that network back to its former heights? NPR's David Folkenflik put that question to the network's newly appointed news chief, Mark Whitaker.

Mr. Mark Whitaker (CNN): A big challenge for CNN now is to really decide who its audience is and to really focus on doing the best job possible for that audience and not think that it can be all things to all people.

Folkenflik: Above all, he's pushing for a global flavor, as he did recently during a meeting with other top CNN news executive who were planning coverage of a speech by President Obama.

Folkenflik: Whitaker's family history echoes the background of Mr. Obama. Whitaker's parents were professors who met at Swarthmore. His mother, who was French, fled the Nazis as a child refugee in 1940 and became a French literature scholar; his father was an African-American political scientist who took his son to live in England and Africa.

Such internationalist instincts served Whitaker well this year, as events required CNN to flex its sizable global reporting muscles - what with the Arab spring, the killing of Osama bin Laden and huge stories from Japan, Greece and Afghanistan.

Folkenflik: Jon Klein, the former president of CNN's American network, tried to mint new stars - primetime hosts Piers Morgan and Eliot Spitzer among them. Whitaker says he's high on them but when he looks at the cable news landscape, at the glut of political talk, and he sees CNN, he says unlike its competitors, it need not be largely defined by the ideology of its hosts or by its treatment of politics.

Mr. Whitaker: I think perhaps there have been times in the past when CNN would have people who represented extreme views, let them go at it in a food fight, and then sit there neutrally in the middle and then toss to commercial. Well, we're not going to do that anymore.  ...

Aqua America Keeps Chugging Along

By Debra Borchardt

June 30, 2011

New York -- For Aqua America (WTR), the name of the game is consolidation.

There are 55,000 different water systems in America, making it an extremely fragmented industry. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is tightening its standards for clean drinking water. This creates opportunity as many of these water companies are owned by municipalities that may have a tough time affording the upgrades necessary to meet the new requirements.

That's where Aqua America comes in. It's been snapping up these companies, and while it suffers a temporary setback with each acquisition as it brings them into compliance, the situation usually ends of being profitable.

The water utility company recently purchased 51 water systems in Texas and sold 60 systems in Missouri as it continues to place its focus on growing states and areas with high populations.

The stock is up 23% for the year but analysts are slightly bearish on the company with seven of the 12 analysts covering the shares at either hold (6) or underperform (1).

Some customers are unhappy with rate increases Aqua America has sought but Chief Executive Officer Nick DeBenedictis says the boosts are necessary because the company has to spend millions cleaning up old neglected facilities. TheStreet recently caught up with DeBenedictis at the New York Stock Exchange.

TheStreet: This is a 125-year-old company and you've been on the stock exchange for 40 years, right?

DeBenedictis: Right. There are three celebrations going on here today. It's 125 years since Swarthmore College professors founded the company in Swarthmore, Pa.; 40 years since we've been on the New York Stock Exchange; and I start my 20th year at the helm this year.  ...


Targeted News Service

Allegheny College Appoints Three Individuals to Positions Focusing on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

June 30, 2011

Following national searches, Allegheny College has appointed three individuals to positions focusing on diversity and inclusive excellence.
Steven Canals will serve as associate director for gender and sexual orientation initiatives in the college's Center for Intercultural Advancement and Student Success....

Tahirah Jordan, currently assistant director of admissions and coordinator for multicultural recruitment at Allegheny, will serve as assistant dean and director of the Center for Intercultural Advancement and Student Success. She will help to shape diversity programming at the college through collaboration with faculty, students and staff. ...

Samira Mehta will serve as Allegheny's sixth Northeast Consortium for Faculty Diversity Dissertation Scholar. She is a dissertation candidate in the American religious cultures course of study in Emory University's Graduate Division of Religion..... Committed to public scholarship, Mehta has taught at the Limmud Southeast retreat, the Decatur, Ga., Public Library and local congregations. Mehta earned a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University and a bachelor's degree in English, religion and women's studies from Swarthmore College.

The Palm Beach Post

CEO takes on Office Depot's red ink

The hands-on leader focuses on customer service and small-business services.

By Emily Roach Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

June 27, 2011

Neil Austrian had been on the job seven months when he was asked last month to take the helm of ailing retailer Office Depot officially. The decision to say yes took five minutes.

He believes the office supply chain has gained momentum and didn't want that to get stifled by a change in top leadership. After more than 20 years as a director in office supply companies, about half of that at Office Depot, he had taken over as interim CEO when the previous chief, Steve Odland, left abruptly in October.

...But Office Depot is revamping its U.S. retail stores to focus on customers and the services small-business owners need, such as copying and computer repairs. And Austrian thinks that if the economy stabilizes, the plans the company has in place will turn things around.

"There's no question that our business is pretty closely tied to white-collar employment," he says.

Austrian is perhaps a more hands-on person than many CEOs. He can rattle off where all the executives who report directly to him played college ball and what sport, and he spends lunch in the company cafeteria asking rank-and-file employees for their ideas.

And he's had a varied career, including serving as president and chief operating officer of the National Football League from 1991 to 1999.

How has your business changed?

In 1988 you didn't have Staples, you didn't have OfficeMax, you didn't have Office Depot. You had a rudimentary Internet. You didn't have an Amazon, you didn't have Walmart or Target or Walgreens or CVS or everybody else selling office supplies. So from a consumer standpoint or a small-business standpoint, it was much easier. You didn't have such competition. ... Basically when you got a customer, assuming that the customer experience and customer service was good, you tended to keep the customer for quite a while. They didn't shop and leave you because they could shop and buy a pad of paper for half a penny cheaper.

What was your first break?

I think my first break, if you call it a break, was being fortunate enough to go to Swarthmore College, which I had never heard of (and) which is one of the extremely competitive and very good small liberal arts schools outside Philadelphia. And it's there that I think I understood that you weren't the smartest guy in the room and understood what it was to really have to think on a rigorous basis, and it wasn't memorization but it was how to think about problems. I consider that my biggest break, as opposed to a business break.  ...


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Retired Valley Baby Boomers Seek Vibrant, Stimulating Retirement Communities that College Towns, Like State College, Offer

State College, Pa. -- This town is not just for students anymore.

Happy Valley has, in the past decade, become a retirement destination for baby boomers.

As the boomer generation -- commonly defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 -- ages into retirement, many are eschewing the cookie-cutter, gated communities favored by their parents, instead opting for "real" places that offer cultural stimulation, natural beauty and outdoor activities, diversity, sports -- i.e. Penn State football -- walkability and a vibrant food scene.

With the coming retirement wave of baby boomers -- scheduled to grow from 35 million now to nearly 80 million in 2030 -- developers are seeing opportunity.

The Kendal Corp., based in Newtown Square in Delaware County, was one of the first and is probably the largest company in the United States specializing in this type of retirement option. It spans a wide menu of living arrangements, from private residences to independent living to skilled nursing and nursing home care, but all include ties with the local academic institution.

"It's a concept that's really been picking up," said Kendal spokeswoman Judy Braun, who noted that her company's communities have relationships with West Chester, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore, and out of state, with Dartmouth, Oberlin and Denison, for example.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Gender imbalance tilting the world toward men

By Jeff Gammage

June 21, 2011

At a park in Lianyungang, a port city in China, journalist Mara Hvistendahl saw the problem in all its smiling, sticky-fingered happiness:
Near an ice-cream stand, feeding the pigeons, were seven boys and five girls. Romping on an inflatable play castle, six boys and only three girls. Across the way, chasing kites, three boys and two girls.
The same pattern exists in cities across eastern China - and not just there. In India and Vietnam, in Azerbaijan, the Republic of Georgia, and Albania, the birth ratio between girls and boys has swung seriously out of whack.

It's changing the world. And if people think the United States will be immune from the political and economic repercussions, says Hvistendahl, the Asia correspondent for Science magazine, they had better think again.
"We've never seen an imbalance at this level," says the Swarthmore College graduate and author of the new book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men.

Cultural preferences for boys, falling birthrates, and economic needs - in China, sons care for aging parents - have met the introduction of cheap ultrasound technology that allows women to learn the sex of their fetuses. The result is an epidemic of gender-selective abortions.
Asia alone has seen the elimination of 160 million future women - more than the entire female population of the United States, Hvistendahl documents. That's creating millions of "surplus men" who will never be able to marry because there won't be enough women to go around.
The potential ramifications? Multiple. And worrisome: Growth in sex trafficking, prostitution and crime, in sales of child brides and in kidnappings of girls or women.
Statistically, men are more violent than women, and unmarried men more violent than married men. So governments fear unrest. There's also evidence that having more men dampens economies - they don't need to buy consumer goods if they're not having families.
"The gender imbalance is a local problem in the way a superpower's financial crisis is a local problem, in the way a neighboring country's war is a local problem," writes Hvistendahl. "Sooner or later, it affects you."...



The Journal News (NY)

Chappaqua's Bressman serving winners at Swarthmore

By Gina Pernicano

June 30, 2011

Horace Greeley graduate Max Bressman of Chappaqua is making a huge impact for the Swarthmore College tennis team.

The junior captain had a 13-2 combined record in singles and doubles play this spring.

Bressman and doubles partner Max Kaye had a conference-best 7-1 record. They kicked off their all-conference season with an upset over UC Santa Cruz, whose first doubles team ranked fourth in the nation.

In singles play, Bressman had a 6-1 record, alternating between the third and fourth spot.

His biggest win came against a player from Centennial Conference champion Johns Hopkins, and would serve as his team's only victory of the match.

Last year, as a sophomore, Bressman had 10 wins in singles competition and seven in doubles.

Bressman was an all-section honorable mention selection at Horace Greeley, and reached the sectional tournament with doubles partner Marc Andrusko in 2008.

Swarthmore Men Step Up Training, Coaching, Look To Make A Move

June 29, 2011

The Swarthmore College men's team has adopted the suburban Philadelphia Fairmount Athletic Club as its 2011-12 training location, and will receive regular coaching from 20-year veteran Paul Frank, according to media coordinator Collin Smith.

Smith said Juhyon Song, out of Cate School in southern California, is an incoming freshman recruit, and the team will recruit additional players through tryouts.

Swarthmore finished #49 in the nation last season.