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HKS in the News June 18, 2012

1. At 50, the Cuban Missile Crisis as Guide (Allison) New York Times

2. The intervention dilemma (Nye) Korea Times

3. The darker side of the bio-industry (Kayyem) Boston Globe

4. Why mortgage rates are so low Wall Street Journal

5. Who wins when big banks merge? (Scherer) Crain's New York Business

At 50, the Cuban Missile Crisis as Guide

New York Times

June 15

Commentary by: Graham Allison, Belfer Center

Topic: 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis

Fifty years ago, the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. During the standoff, President John F. Kennedy thought the chance of escalation to war was “between 1 in 3 and even,” and what we have learned in later decades has done nothing to lengthen those odds. Such a conflict might have led to the deaths of 100 million Americans and over 100 million Russians.

The main story line of the crisis is familiar. In October 1962, a U.S. spy plane caught the Soviet Union attempting to sneak nuclear-tipped missiles into Cuba, 90 miles off the U.S. coast.

Kennedy determined at the outset that this could not stand. After a week of secret deliberations with his most trusted advisers, he announced the discovery to the world and imposed a naval blockade on further shipments of armaments to Cuba.

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The intervention dilemma

Korea Times

June 17

Commentary by: Joseph Nye

Topic: Military intervention and Syria

CAMBRIDGE ― When should states intervene militarily to stop atrocities in other countries? The question is an old and well-traveled one. Indeed, it is now visiting Syria.

In 1904, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt argued that, “there are occasional crimes committed on so vast a scale and of such peculiar horror” that we should intervene by force of arms. A century earlier, in 1821, as Europeans and Americans debated whether to intervene in Greece’s struggle for independence, President John Quincy Adams warned his fellow Americans about “going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”

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The darker side of the bio-industry

Boston Globe

June 18

Commentary by: Juliette Kayyem, Belfer Center

Topic: The biotechnology industry

As the Bio International Convention begins here in Boston Monday, the most brilliant thinkers around the world will meet to discuss innovations in the life sciences, drug discovery, biofuels, and nanotechnology. Most of us will have no idea what the attendees at the largest global event for the biotechnology industry are talking about. The convention website highlights a head-spinning array of sessions about such topics as oligonucleotides-based therapeutics, engendering painful memories of attempts at AP Biology in high school.

Biological advancements have tremendous benefits to our health, energy supplies, and global food supplies. But there is a darker side to the bio-industry, and that involves both the capacity to cause harm and the need for medicine to treat us should that come to pass. So, as the really smart conventioneers present their goods in Chinese, Japanese, English, Spanish, and other languages, those of us on the outside have one simple request: When it comes to the public and the threats that we face, speak in a language that we can actually understand.

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Why mortgage rates are so low

Wall Street Journal

June 18

Cited: Research from the Joint Center for Housing Studies

Topic: Mortgage rates

Glimmers of hope in the housing market suggest a turnaround is near, with statistics showing stabilizing home prices and an increasing number of home sales.

Yet even as housing conditions improve, mortgage interest rates remain near record-low levels. …

A recent report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies suggests the housing recovery is still in its early stages and faces obstacles, including foreclosure inventory yet to hit the market and the drop in median household incomes. Read more: Housing market rebounding, but slowly.

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Who wins when big banks merge?

Crain's New York Business

June 17

Cited: Research by F.M. Scherer

Topic: Bank mergers

Everyone knows the nation's banking system is dominated by a handful of giant institutions. To be precise: 63% of all bank assets belong to JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and four others.

Yet that figure actually understates the concentration of financial clout in these institutions, according to F.M. Scherer , a professor emeritus at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. His latest research shows that in international lending and debt underwriting, the six biggest banks have market shares in the neighborhood of 90%. For syndicated lending—the process of parceling out a big corporate loan to a group of banks—they have 86% of the business.

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Broadcast Notes

Tarek Masoud, Ash Center

PBS “Newshour,” 6/15/12

Topic: Egyptian elections

This selection of media appearances is compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

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