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HKS in the News March 19, 2012

1. A seasoned David Gergen decries today’s pop-up pundits (Gergen) The Globe and Mail

2. US budget breakthrough after Nov.? (Kelman) The Business Times

3. If you’re eager for a cause, know your subject (Seglin) London Free Press

4. Students Dispute Israel Detainment The Harvard Crimson

A seasoned David Gergen decries today’s pop-up pundits
The Globe and Mail

March 16
Profiled: David Gergen, Center for Public leadership
Topic: David Gergen

It may be a shame that David Gergen never ran for office, because he possesses a natural politician’s gift of leaving an audience feeling upbeat even while delivering terrible news. He is jovial and gentlemanly and self-effacing, and he flatters people by asking about their background and point of view. But on a visit to Toronto earlier this week, he made quick work of the question of whether Canada might be able to learn something from the current state of U.S. politics. “Yeah” he chuckles: “what not to do. …”

After he graduated from law school in 1967, he served in the U.S. Navy for three and a half years. “I was overseas in Japan for a couple of years, and I was away during the most radical period of the late sixties, and I was never radicalized the way some of my friends were, because I was in a ship a long, long way away,” he says.

The Nixon administration hired him, even though he’d voted for the Democratic candidate in 1968, Hubert Humphrey. Expecting the gig to be brief, he ended up working in and around the White House until the mid-eighties, at which point his friend Mort Zuckerman hired him to work at U.S. News & World Report. Eventually, Gergen became the magazine’s editor. Now, as a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, he mentors some of the country's future leaders.

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US budget breakthrough after Nov.?
The Business Times

March 16
Commentary by: Steve Kelman
Topic: US debt

SO FAR in the current US presidential campaign, there has been virtually no attention paid to doing something about the US public debt problem.

Instead, the battle among the primary Republican contenders has gotten sidetracked into a number of peripheral issues (at best) and bizarre issues (at worst), often raised by Rick Santorum on behalf of religious conservatives, involving government support for birth control, the status of gay marriage, and so forth. (The New York Times recently asked sarcastically how it was that the presidential campaign had come to be about sex.)

Although many economists believe that, in the short term, the high budget deficit level in the US may be a good thing to provide macroeconomic stimulus to an economy still trying to recover from the financial crisis, there is close to unanimity among serious observers that, in the medium to longer term, the structural deficit in the US budget - with the concomitant increases in levels of public debt required to support it - is somewhere between highly problematic and totally unsustainable.

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If you’re eager for a cause, know your subject
London Free Press

March 17
Commentary by: Jeffrey Seglin, Shorenstein Center
Topic: Causes and social media

When my 13-year-old grandson sent me a link to a YouTube video about Joseph Kony, the video already had been viewed 20 million times. It was posted by the not-for-profit, Invisible Children. Its stated goal was to raise awareness about Kony, a warlord who has led the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group in Africa, since 1987.

The well-produced video tells a moving story about 30,000 children kidnapped over the past several decades. There’s a message to contact influential politicians and celebrities to ask them to help bring awareness and an end to Kony.

By the time I viewed the Kony video, articles had been posted online calling into question exactly what Invisible Children was asking viewers to do, asking whether the video oversimplified the issue, and also closely examining the not-for-profit’s 990-form, the disclosure that every not-for-profit in the U.S. has to file annually with the Internal Revenue Service.

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Students Dispute Israel Detainment
The Harvard Crimson

March 19
Mentioned: Harvard Kennedy School students
Topic: Trip to West Bank

After 55 Harvard students were briefly placed in custody by Israeli security personnel last week, students involved in the incident and a diplomatic representative disputed the border police’s reported reason for detaining the students’ bus.

The students were detained Tuesday during a trip organized by students at the Harvard Kennedy School to al-Walaja, a Palestinian town in the West Bank. Shireen Al-Araj, the students’ guide and a coordinator of an organization in al-Walaja that protests Israel’s construction of a security wall in the West Bank, was arrested and then released soon afterward, according to several trip participants.

According to travelers, the police who boarded the students’ bus said that their vehicle was on a restricted military road. But many participants said that they did not notice any official signs in the area.

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In the HKS TV Studio

Michael Semple, Carr Center
BBC “Today,” 3/16
Topic: Events in Afghanistan

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