SAR Academic Freedom Media Review – September 22-28, 2012

I realize it is an idealistic view, but I believe passionately in the necessity of free intellectual inquiry.  It is the only way we arrive at truth. Only in the most extreme circumstances should it be compromised, for example to protect public safety. That is why I so strongly support the work of Scholars at Risk, and why I re-publish their weekly Academic Freedom Media Review every week. Even if all we do is call attention to abuses of academic freedom, we render a service. So read, re-post, or forward these messages. Visit the site of Scholars of Risk and find out more about the work.

Scholars at Risk monitors reports of threats to academic freedom and higher education communities worldwide, including media articles, blogs, opinion pieces and other announcements.  Unless otherwise indicated (such as in articles written by SAR), the language and views contained in the search results reflect those of the originating author and/or publication and do not necessarily represent the views of Scholars at Risk or its members, affiliates, board or staff. Archived media reviews are available here.

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Higher education mounts rescue efforts for Syrian students, scholars
Eileen Travers, University World News, 9/28

Scholars at Risk calls for letters on behalf of Busra Ersanli of Turkey
Scholars at Risk, 9/27

Women’s situation and human rights under militarisation of society: the case of Sri Lanka
Inge Erling Tesdal, University of Bergen, 9/27
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The President is Correct about the Health Care Reform Law

President Barack Obama delivers his state of the union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Photograph: Pool/Reuters

In the State of the Union Address tonight, President Barack Obama welcomed serious efforts fix aspects of the new health care law, but rejected efforts to overturn it and start over. He is right. The law is Constitutional and the apocalyptic scenarios regarding its impact on our health care system are absurd.

Most importantly, it is a good law protecting us from abuses by insurance companies and the health care industry. Here are a few of the most interesting provisions, as summarized in an article from Reuters that came out in March when the legislation was passed. I’ve selected some of the provisions that will have the most impact and inserted my comments in parentheses.

Already in effect are the following provisions. See the article for a fuller summary.

  • Insurance companies will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Lifetime coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be restricted. (Note: If you, a friend or family member has every had a chronic condition, or an illness or injury that is difficulty that is expensive to treat, you will really be grateful for this provision.)
  • Insurers will be barred from excluding children for coverage because of pre-existing conditions. (If you’ve ever changed jobs in a state that doesn’t prohibit this, this is good news, too.)
  • Young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish college. (The job market it tough out there! A lot of young people and their worried parents will appreciate this.)…
  • A tax credit becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.
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    World AIDS Day 2010

    Today is World AIDS Day, an opportunity to raise awareness of the disease, commemorate those who have passed on, to celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services, and to push for further advances in all these areas.   The theme is Universal Access and Human Rights, and it is being marked by a Light for Rights Campaign.

    (The) campaign strives to underscore this year’s focus on HIV and human rights by encouraging people in cities around the world to dim the lights on key landmarks to remember the devastating affect AIDS has had on us all, and to turn back on the lights to illuminate the fundamental rights we all share.

    One website, The Body, an online HIV/AIDS Resource, sponsored a contest, challenging folks to create and submit public service announcements.  The submissions can be seen here.
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    Here we go again!

    A new attack ad targeting three Democratic senators and one Republican criticizes “hidden taxes on … pensions and retirement accounts” in the financial regulation legislation being considered by Congress, and urges the senators to “vote against this phony financial reform.”

    The ad gives a false impression. The Senate bill doesn’t contain the tax mentioned in the ad.

    (It) is the work of a less-than-transparent group calling itself “Stop Too Big To Fail,” which says its $1.6 million ad buy is targeting senators in Nevada, Virginia and Missouri (Sens. Harry Reid, Mark Warner, Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond).

    So begins a April 23, 2010 posting from Fact Check.org…

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    What You Need to Know NOW about Health Care Reform

    Why does this number matter? Click to find out.

    An appeal from Consumers Union Action Fund that found its way to my email today makes a good point.

    Right now, they’re counting the phone calls in your Representative’s office. Who is calling against health reform, who is for it.

    They’re keeping a minute-by-minute tally – undecided members are getting swayed; those who already voted ‘yes’ are reconsidering.

    These days it is easy to feel jaded about politics and about the influence of the people on the process.  We are far too often given reason to.   The fact is, however, that the voice of the people does still matter.  Politicians do respond to political pressure.  They always have and always will.  After all, no matter how much money political action committees, corporations or special interests channel into politics, politicians have to be re-elected.

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    Grayson Introduces Public Option Act

    This is the way to look at Universal Health Care, extending Medicare coverage to everyone.
    A Press Release from the Office of Congressman Alan Grayson
    March 9, 2010
    Congressman Alan Grayson, D-Fla., today introduced a bill (H.R. 4789) which would give the option to buy into Medicare to every citizen of the United States.  The “Public Option Act,” also known as the “Medicare You Can Buy Into Act,” would open up the Medicare network to anyone who can pay for it.
    Congressman Grayson said, “Obviously, America wants and needs more competition in health coverage, and a public option offers that.  But it’s just as important that we offer people not just another choice, but another kind of choice.   A lot of people don’t want to be at the mercy of greedy insurance companies that will make money by denying them the care that they need to stay healthy, or to stay alive.  We deserve to have a real alternative.”
    The bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish enrollment periods, coverage guidelines, and premiums for the program.  Because premiums would be equal to cost, the program would pay for itself.
    “The government spent billions of dollars creating a Medicare network of providers that is only open to one-eighth of the population.  That’s like saying, ‘Only people 65 and over can use federal highways.’  It is a waste of a very valuable resource and it is not fair.  This idea is simple, it makes sense, and it deserves an up-or-down vote,” Congressman Grayson said.
    H.R. 4789 – “Public Option Act” or “Medicare You Can Buy Into Act”:
    http://thomas.loc.gov/  Click Bill Number. Enter H.R. 4789. Click Search. From there you can access the text of the legislation (very short bill), cosponsors, and other information.

    Tell the Senate to Pass Health Care Reform through Reconciliation

    Health Care Reform Reality Check from the White House SiteThere is a letter circulating in the Senate calling on Majority Leader Harry Reid to pass the public health insurance option through “reconciliation,” which only needs a simple majority in the Senate, rather than the 60 vote “Super Majority.” It is maddening that the Democrats have 59% of the seats in the Senate and yet they can’t seem to control the agenda.

    Go to this page to see if your Senator has signed and, if not, to sign the petition to ask them to to so. There is also a link to help you call you member of Congress. Continue reading

    One Faculty Serving All Students

    Here’s an interesting article on a new statement issued by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce dealing with the working conditions of faculty at institutions of higher education.

    A coalition of academic associations is today issuing a joint statement calling on colleges to recognize that they have “one faculty” and to treat those off the tenure track as professionals, with pay, benefits, professional development and participation in governance.

    The joint statement, “One Faculty Serving All Students,” (pdf) calls for colleges to adopt a series of policies that would significantly improve the treatment of adjunct faculty members at many institutions. The statement was organized by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, and has been signed by 14 disciplinary associations as well as by the American Federation of Teachers. The disciplines involved represent such major fields as anthropology, art, composition, English, foreign languages, philosophy and religion.

    Among members of the coalition, one notable non-signatory was the American Association of University Professors, where some viewed the statement as not sufficiently focused on the tenure track. But at least some adjunct leaders applauded the statement for exactly that reason.

    The statement deals with some important questions, but does it provide the correct answers? Did the AAUP make the right decision to hold out?

    Why Scott Brown May Win and Why It Shouldn’t Matter So Much

    The Coakley campaign should never have taken victory in the Massachusetts special election for granted, as many believe they did, at least early on. It’s common that in off year elections the opposition party suffers. Though Massachusetts is said to be a solidly Democratic state, those lines don’t mean as much as they used to, and this is a year in which people are upset about the economy and fired up by a lot of opposition fear mongering on health care reform. It’s always the angry that turn out, especially on a cold, damp day like today. Coakley doesn’t inspire passion. Brown does.

    I hope I’m wrong and I’ve voted, marking my vote for Coakley. But even if she’s defeated, it shouldn’t matter as much as pundits are saying it does. Democrats are TERRIBLE strategists. Jon Stewart put it so well last night.

    The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
    Mass Backwards
    www.thedailyshow.com
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political Humor Health Care Crisis

    Still, there are a couple hours left, so GET OUT AND VOTE FOR MARTHA COAKLEY!

    Martha Coakley for Senate

    President Obama and Martha Coakley

    I’m afraid that I have to admit that I agree with Scott Brown.  The negative campaign ads directed against him by the Coakley campaign have been a bit much. The other night I was watching tv and the negative ads came on, one after the other. Many of them featured a dark ominous voice talking about the terrible things that would happen if Brown got elected. Then Copley herself came on in an ad and, to be honest, her voice seemed just a bit strident and annoying. But don’t be deceived. This election is about substance, not style; Issues, not rhetoric!

    The fact is that Scott Brown spouts a lot of general, feel good rhetoric that needs to be interrogated and challenged. Brown accuses his opponents of running ads that attack him but don’t discuss the issues, but where is the discussion of the issues in his ads? He’s endorsed by the Tea Party Patriots. I am opposed to virtually every point in their agenda and think they are a little nuts. If they endorse him, I want to know why. What issues does he agree with them on? The answer is far too many.

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