Monthly Archives: June 2013

Affirmative Action After Fisher v. the University of Texas

On Monday, the Supreme Court handed down Fisher v. the University of Texas  a highly anticipated affirmative action case.  In a somewhat anticlimactic decision, the High Court remanded “the case back to the lower court to apply “strict scrutiny” to the University’s admissions policy.” NPR’s Talk of the Nation discussed the future of affirmative action after Fisher

Leave a comment

June 27, 2013 · 11:26 pm

Supreme Court Curtail Voting Rights Act

In Shelby County v. Holder, today the Supreme Court struck a key provision of the voting rights act, a provision that required states to get federal permission to change their voting laws. 

For more on this historic case, see the SCOTUS blog coverage

Leave a comment

June 25, 2013 · 11:11 pm

Tires, Tariffs, and Grizz: Oh My!

NPR’s Planet Money recently ran as story answering the question: “why are tire prices so damn high?”  Here is a description of the story: 

The price of tires has risen by about 40 percent in the past five years. That’s partly because rubber prices have gone up. But it’s also due to a tariff the U.S. imposed on Chinese tire imports.

As tire prices have risen, more people have been renting tires rather than buying them outright. And renting tires, it turns out, is often a bad deal in the long run.

On today’s show: How a celebrated attempt to help one group of people ended quietly hurting a much larger group. Also on the show: The Grizz.

For more, see our story Why More People Are Renting Tires. And see the paper we mention on the show, U.S. Tire Tariffs: Saving Few Jobs at High Cost.

Leave a comment

June 23, 2013 · 8:31 am

Why We Are Failing Good Teachers

Last weekend, This American Life ran a story about an award winning teacher who is being forced to quit.  It’s a really exasperating story if you care about the state of American education.  Here is a description of the segment: 

Science teacher Jason Pittman, who teaches pre-school through sixth grade at a school in Fairfax County, Virginia, won a big teaching award this week. In fact, during his ten years teaching, he’s won many, many awards. He loves his job. But this week, he explains to Ira why he’s quitting, even though he doesn’t want to. (6 minutes)

1 Comment

June 22, 2013 · 12:06 pm

Click Here for FREE PORN…Debate

No, our website was not hacked by spammers. Instead the BBC’s Moral Maze is back . . . and hotter than ever.  Here is a description of the debate: 

The statistics on internet porn are eye-popping enough – it’s claimed that 36% of internet content is pornography, with one in four queries to search engines being porn-related the online porn industry makes more than $3,000 a second. But if that isn’t enough to convince you that pornography has long since abandoned the seedy confines of the top shelves and colonised mainstream media, then perhaps the fact that porn is to get an academic journal devoted to the study of the genre might. Concerns about the volume, nature and easy availability of porn have been growing for some time, but the recent trials of Stuart Hazell, convicted for killing 12-year-old Tia Sharp, and Mark Bridger for killing five year old April Jones have brought the issue in to sharp focus. Both men were found to have violent pornography on their computers and one of them was watching it just hours before he carried out the murder. This week the Culture Secretary Maria Millar and charities held a summit meeting with internet service providers demanding that they do something to reduce access to obscene images, especially by children. The “ban porn/don’t ban porn” argument has raged, perhaps ever since the Lady Chatterley trail. Of course there are the issues of freedom of speech and censorship, but has technology changed so rapidly in recent years that the moral framework of the debate needs to be changed? Do we have the moral language to balance the right of consenting adults to watch other consenting adults having sex against the fact that such hardcore porn is so easily available and consumed, especially by adolescent boys? Is it the job of the state to police what goes online, or should parents be taking more care what their children are doing online? Is the normalisation of porn culture subtly damaging us all by commodifying and brutalising relationships – reducing them to animalistic couplings? Or is that being hopelessly romantic? Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Claire Fox, Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor and Giles Fraser. Witnesses: Jerry Barnett – Former Chairman of the Adult Industry Trade Association, Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of Mothers’ Union, Myles Jackman – Solicitor. Sexual freedom and obscenity specialist, Eleanor Mills – Sunday Times campaigning reporter

Leave a comment

June 20, 2013 · 8:09 pm

Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl

Lost the fervor relating to the gay marriage cases currently pending before the Supreme Court is another fascinating case that will be decided decided this month, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. 

Here is a description of the Radio Lab segment previewing the case: 

This is the story of a three-year-old girl and the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl is a legal battle that has entangled a biological father, a heart-broken couple, and the tragic history of Native American children taken from their families.

When producer Tim Howard first read about this case, it struck him as a sad but seemingly straightforward custody dispute. But, as he started talking to lawyers and historians and the families involved in the case, it became clear that it was much more than that. Because Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl challenges parts of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, this case puts one little girl at the center of a storm of legal intricacies, Native American tribal culture, and heart-wrenching personal stakes.

1 Comment

June 19, 2013 · 7:40 pm

General Hayden Defends PRISM

On Sunday, General Michael Hayden, former National Security Agency Director, discusses about NSA data collection.

Leave a comment

June 19, 2013 · 4:10 am

Florida: Expedites Death Penalty Process Despite Chilling Exoneration Rate

Yesterday, This American Life ran a short story about a recent bill signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott.  Despite the fact that Florida has one of the worst record for poor lawyering in death penalty cases (which only requires a majority vote for death in Florida), the bill would make executions quicker and easier. 

Here is a description of the story:

On Wednesday, Florida executed a death row inmate named William Van Poyck. His execution came the same week that Florida’s governor signed a new law designed to speed up executions in the state. Emily Bazelon, legal affairs editor at Slate, explains that of all the states in the country, Florida is probably the last one where you’d want executions to move faster. (8 minutes)

Leave a comment

June 17, 2013 · 10:14 pm

Rockanomics and the US Economy: “It’s a Long Way to the Top . . .”

“. . . if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll.” This quote from AC/DC and Jack Black’s School of Rock is applicable to a short story by NPR’s Weekend Edition.  The segment discusses how the economics of the music industry can teach us lessons about the broader American economy.  Most notably, both are currently in a state of radical inequality. 

Here is a description of the story: 

White House economic adviser Alan Krueger took some ribbing from his boss this week. President Obama noted that Krueger will soon be leaving Washington to go back to his old job, teaching economics at Princeton.

“And now that Alan has some free time, he can return to another burning passion of his: ‘Rockanomics,’ the economics of rock and roll,” the president said. “This is something that Alan actually cares about.”

In fact, Krueger gave a speech this week at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, where he said the music business offers valuable lessons about the broader U.S. economy.

Leave a comment

June 16, 2013 · 11:01 am

Father of High-Frequency Trading Advocates Slow Down

NPR’s Planet Money recent re-aired the story of Thomas Peterffy, a financial innovator that helped chang how (fast) stock trading occurs.  Here is a description of the story:

Thomas Peterffy’s life story includes a typing robot, a proto-iPad, and a vast fortune he amassed as one of the first guys to use computers in financial markets.

On today’s show, Peterffy tells us his story — and he explains why he’s worried about the financial world he helped create.

Leave a comment

June 15, 2013 · 2:54 pm