Current Affairs

The New Lion of Damascus

Syrian President Bashar al-Asad has recently become the subject of intense international scrutiny. The United Nations probe into the assassination of Lebanese Premier Rafik al-Hariri has stepped up its investigation of the Syrian regime in recent weeks, after the former Syrian vice president, in an interview on al-‘Arabiyya television, claimed

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Happy 300th Birthday, Ben Franklin!

This day marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin is perhaps the most remarkable figure in American history: the greatest statesman of his age, he played a pivotal role in the formation of the American republic. He was also a pioneering scientist, a bestselling author, the

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Spies Like Us

Back when spies were spies, they spied by the rules—with the exception perhaps of those who did their spying for totalitarian regimes. The Constitution of the Soviet Union, for example, guaranteed the privacy of correspondence, but the government still read people’s private mail. By the end of the twentieth century,

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Who am I? What am I doing here?

In an Op-Ed piece for the Washington Post, Harold Meyerson writes about “the pervasive insecurity that is inextricably part of today’s capitalism.” Invoking Richard Sennett’s new book The Culture of the New Capitalism, Myerson writes: “In the absence of a more structured work life, what Sennett sees is a more

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Off Center on Fresh Air

Listen to Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson discuss Off Center on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

“A History Junkie’s Delight”

“This collection is a history junkie’s delight,” raves Publisher’s Weekly in its review of My Dear Mr. Stalin: The Complete Correspondence Between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph V. Stalin. The book is the first publication that contains the more than three hundred hot-war messages exchanged between FDR and Stalin from

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Battle for the Soul of Capitalism

Earlier this month newspaper tycoon Conrad Black, the recently ousted CEO of Hollinger International Inc., was indicted by a federal court on charges of cheating the company’s U.S. and Canadian shareholders and evading Canadian tax authorities. The eleven-count indictment alleges, among other abuses, that Black and his associates fraudulently diverted

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How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis

According to a panel of experts who appeared on this weekend’s edition of Meet the Press, we are critically under-prepared in the face of the impending, and some say inevitable, outbreak of an avian flu pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH says that “we don’t have the vaccine production

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Off Center

By the slimmest of margins, the House of Representatives approved a budget plan today that will cut $50 billion dollars in spending for poverty, education, and farm programs over the next five years. Included are broad cuts to Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, and student

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The Plausibility of Life

All eight members up for re-election to the Dover, Pennsylvania school board who instated the teaching of intelligent design in biology classrooms were swept out of office. (Read the article in the New York Times.) That same day in Kansas however, Board of Education members voted 6-4 to allow intelligent

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