Semester News Challenge

This challenge is entirely voluntary.

You have two choices as to how to complete (or attempt this challenge):

A. Weekly Updates:
You read and email to me two (2) news stories that you found on the web or watched on television. You will include a brief summary of the main point(s) of each article in the email. You should include a link to the story in your email.

Prize: you will earn the ability to skip one (1) of the two essays on the final exam.

B. Almost Daily Updates:
You read and email me to five (5) news stories that you found on the web or watched on television, with a link to the story and a brief summary.

Prize: you will earn the ability to skip both essays on the final exam.


(Please read these carefully, and let me know if you have questions.)

1. You must turn in the appropriate number of stories every week without exception (except Spring Break) in order to earn the prize. If you miss turning in the appropriate number of stories one week, you are out of the contest.

2. Acceptable topics are as follows:
– Massachusetts (or New England) political, economic, or societal stories.
– U.S. political, economic, and society stories.
– International political, economic, and society stories.

This does not include pop culture, music (unless related to politics), fictional movies or fictional television shows, AND GOD HELP YOU IF THE NAME “KHARDASHIAN”, “HILTON”, OR “SPEARS” APPEARS IN THE ARTICLE YOU WILL FAIL FOR THE SEMESTER. The same goes for the inhabitants of Beverly Hills and the Jersey Shore.

Email the news stories to:
(Make certain you email your news stories to this address; they will get lost in my AC email account. Stories mailed to any other email account will not be counted!)

Use the subject heading: “YourLastName-News Stories-Wk 1” (or Wk 2, Wk 3, etc).

In the very first email you send, include this (if you wish to participate): “I agree to the terms of the challenge. YourNameHere.” Indicate which option you are choosing, A or B. (You may go down from B to A if you need to, but you may not go from A to B. You can drop down a level, but not move up a level, once the semester begins.)


It is vital that you make a habit of reading national and international news on a regular basis as soon as possible. It can be hard to know what sources are reliable and generally accurate. I provide you a list of sources I believe are trustworthy. [News aggregator; stories from many different sources.] [leans slightly conservative/Republican] [British Broadcasting Corporation, the finest reporter of news in the world.] [Canadian Broadcasting Corp., also excellent. Look on Youtube for their documentary on the Iraq War.] [Information on the political situation as it unfolds this year. Polls, short articles, examinations of election results, etc. Very informative. Includes predictions as to winners and losers.] [leans liberal/Democratic] [News aggregator; users submit stories, and other users vote them up or down.]

Several scientific polls have demonstrated that the best-informed people in the United States are regular viewers of both The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. (You can read about this here:

In 2003, Fox News won a lawsuit in Florida against a former producer using the defense that Fox News has no obligation to tell the truth. The producer sued because she was fired when she refused to include false information in a report. Therefore, Fox “News” is not a credible source of information. You can read about it here: and here:

For rational (and usually interesting) conservative thought, you should check out The National Review (


**NOTE: The week begins at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.**

Categories: Interesting

Vote For Class on Friday

Please vote to either:

(a) Have me record a podcast lecture which you will download and listen to along with the powerpoint file, and we will have a regular discussion of “All Quiet on the Western Front” on Friday or

(b) Have lecture on Friday and minimal discussion of the book; I will email my comments.


Categories: Uncategorized

Why Capitalism Fails

An excerpt from the Boston Globe. Be sure to read the whole article!

Why capitalism fails
The man who saw the meltdown coming had another troubling insight: it will happen again

By Stephen Mihm
Globe Correspondent / September 13, 2009

Since the global financial system started unraveling in dramatic fashion two years ago, distinguished economists have suffered a crisis of their own. Ivy League professors who had trumpeted the dawn of a new era of stability have scrambled to explain how, exactly, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression had ambushed their entire profession.

Amid the hand-wringing and the self-flagellation, a few more cerebral commentators started to speak about the arrival of a “Minsky moment,” and a growing number of insiders began to warn of a coming “Minsky meltdown.”

“Minsky” was shorthand for Hyman Minsky, a hitherto obscure macroeconomist who died over a decade ago. Many economists had never heard of him when the crisis struck, and he remains a shadowy figure in the profession. But lately he has begun emerging as perhaps the most prescient big-picture thinker about what, exactly, we are going through. A contrarian amid the conformity of postwar America, an expert in the then-unfashionable subfields of finance and crisis, Minsky was one economist who saw what was coming. He predicted, decades ago, almost exactly the kind of meltdown that recently hammered the global economy.

In recent months Minsky’s star has only risen. Nobel Prize-winning economists talk about incorporating his insights, and copies of his books are back in print and selling well. He’s gone from being a nearly forgotten figure to a key player in the debate over how to fix the financial system.

But if Minsky was as right as he seems to have been, the news is not exactly encouraging. He believed in capitalism, but also believed it had almost a genetic weakness. Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.

In other words, the one person who foresaw the crisis also believed that our whole financial system contains the seeds of its own destruction. “Instability,” he wrote, “is an inherent and inescapable flaw of capitalism.”

Categories: News & Politics

The Truth About the Public Option

The Recession’s Racial Divide

An excerpt from the New York Times:

The Recession’s Racial Divide

Published: September 12, 2009

WHAT do you get when you combine the worst economic downturn since the Depression with the first black president? A surge of white racial resentment, loosely disguised as a populist revolt. An article on the Fox News Web site has put forth the theory that health reform is a stealth version of reparations for slavery: whites will foot the bill and, by some undisclosed mechanism, blacks will get all the care. President Obama, in such fantasies, is a dictator and, in one image circulated among the anti-tax, anti-health reform “tea parties,” he is depicted as a befeathered African witch doctor with little tusks coming out of his nostrils. When you’re going down, as the white middle class has been doing for several years now, it’s all too easy to imagine that it’s because someone else is climbing up over your back.

Categories: News & Politics

Teabagger’s Solution


Categories: Image(s)

Liechtenstein, Andorra Forced to Fight

So this is from the Onion (the online humor magazine), but it’s very funny!

You can find it ••by clicking here.••

Here’s an excerpt:

Liechtenstein, Andorra Forced To Fight By Larger Countries
SEPTEMBER 11, 2009 | ISSUE 45•37

HELSINKI—Members of the Group of Eight, the forum for the world’s most powerful industrialized nations, held a special session Tuesday to discuss how best to prod the European microstates of Lichtenstein and Andorra into fighting.

Most of western Europe agrees the two nations seriously need to sack it up and brawl.

The G8’s proposal, which seeks to pit the small, landlocked principalities against each other in military combat, was reportedly drafted after the leaders of the eight nations had grown bored with their recent negotiations over international energy tariffs.

“After much careful deliberation, we have come to the consensus that the nations of Liechtenstein and Andorra need to just man up and fight, ” said U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown during an afternoon recess. “All of the bigger countries want them to, and everyone agrees at this point that it would be quite lame if they didn’t. Therefore, I would advise Liechtenstein and Andorra to grow some balls already and get on with it.”

Categories: Uncategorized