Haass, Rubin, and Gergen Answer Questions at Tate Lecture Student Forum

September 15, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Marissa Belske

SMU and local high school students gathered in the Hughes-Trigg ballroom Tuesday afternoon to ask respected political and foreign affair experts about pressing issues on the U.S. economy and international relations in the Middle East and China.

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Robert Rubin, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and David Gergen, a senior political commentator for CNN helped kick off the 29th season of the Tate Lecture Series by expressing the importance of U.S. international involvement in a down economy.

The Role of China and Latin America

The experts agreed that with today’s economy the U.S. needs a much broader range of partners. Haass said that a good relationship with China is vital to the future of the U.S.

“They stressed to me the point that the U.S. needs to become and stay allies with China to grow,” said SMU student Daniel Hux.

According to Gergen, China’s renewable energy industry is growing rapidly, at times promoting their economy at the expense of American jobs.

“They (China) are doing a lot of things which are in violation with international law to build up their economy and create these jobs,” said Gergen. “Places, like in Dublin, Massachusetts where there is a renewable energy company, are now shutting down and moving its jobs to China.”

“It surprised me to hear that China has gotten into renewable energy,” said elementary schoolteacher Linda Giesen. “They are taking our jobs and that is scary.”

The experts agree that the U.S. needs to turn their attention to developing relationships with Latin America as well. Rubin says that 10 to 20 years down the road, the U.S. could face conflict in these regions for access to their natural resources.

“We have paid too little attention to Latin America for far too long,” said Gergen.

A Strong Home Front

The U.S. economy was on the minds of all the experts. Haass was especially passionate about the importance of improving the American economy before creating international commitments.

“The most important thing I would say is we need to be strong at home if we are going to be strong abroad,” said Haass. “We are accumulating debt at an alarming rate which leaves us vulnerable. We need to restore again the economic foundations of our might.”

Gergen joked that all students should take history while in college to learn from previous mistakes. While America faces threats from abroad, he says that the America’s biggest threat comes from within.

“I cannot remember a time when our problems have seemed so big and our capacity to solve them have been this small,” said Gergen.

The Future of the Middle East

The experts touched on Iran and the growing threat there due to their economic challenges. Haass said that today Iran is developing nuclear weapons in laboratories and that it is hard to predict what will happen next.

“The question in Iran is what is the timeline of political change in comparison to the timeline of their nuclear development,” said Haass.

While the experts are hopeful that the issues will resolve themselves in the Middle East, they say problems will not be resolved anytime soon.

“The basic message is stay tuned,” said Gergen. “I think almost everything we have said today is stay tuned.”

Although the subject matter of the afternoon was serious, SMU Student Haz said that the student forum was both entertaining and enlightening.

“They are passionate about what they do and it is good to know that we have people out there that are trying to help fix what’s going on here.”
For more information on the speakers visit the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series website. The next Tate Student Forum will be held Tuesday, October 5th and will feature Inventor Ray Kurzweil.

SMU Students on CNN for Parade, Protest coverage

May 3, 2010 by · Comments Off 

SMU students Laura Ratliff and Stuart Palley participated in a multimedia workshop run by professional photojournalists in the Dallas area Saturday, producing an audio slideshow about the Cinco de Mayo parade and May Day immigration march.

CNN picked up the story and interviewed Ratliff after she posted the piece on the CNN.com iReport page.

Prof Runs GOP Debate Focus Group on Campus

January 31, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

One of the dial tests used in Friday night's debate focus group. (PHOTO BY ELISABETH BRUBAKER / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

One of the dial tests used in Friday night's debate focus group. (PHOTO BY ELISABETH BRUBAKER / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

By Elisabeth Brubaker

SMU Professor Dr. Rita Kirk held a focus group in Umphrey Lee Friday night to study the Republican reaction to the Belo debate. Kirk recruited 30 Republicans- both first time and repeat voters to participate in the focus group during the GOP Debate.

Kirk has been doing research for over 20 years. CNN first hired Kirk for the debates during the presidential election primaries. This past weekend she brought her research back to the Hilltop only one day after going to Ohio to dial test the President’s State of the Union address.

The focus groups are used to “dial test” a particular speech or event. Each participant is given a dial to record their perceptions of the candidates (or the President) at any moment throughout the speech or debate.

Kirk loves analyzing the data afterwards. During the candidates’ closing statements Kirk was able to see who did the best overall. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison had the highest rating with 73 out of 100. Governor Rick Perry got a 67 and Debra Medina got a 63.

Some participants offered their opinions of the dial testing and candidates after the debate. Watch the videos for their reactions.

(Editor’s note: Elisabeth Brubaker is a student assistant for Dr. Kirk’s research study.)

One participant said this about the “jeopardy” portion of the debate:

Another participant discussed how she reads the candidates.

Global News Blog: Five Killed During Elections on Tuesday; What’s Next?

March 30, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Posted by Cynthia Kinard

Elections in Turkey are causing disputes between citizens and some have even been killed. Early election results predicated and showed that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the overall election according to a CNN article. Erdogan’s party has been in power since 2002, but his percentage points have slipped.

First round results imply that he is loosing some ground to an Islamist party and a Kurdish nationalist party. During elections Turkey enforces strict rules. It is illegal for people to carry firearms and the sale of alcohol is forbidden across the country. There have been several incidents in Kars Karabag village, Siginak, and Sanlifura of fights and people killing people with firearms.

These fights are mostly pertaining to Erdogan and the choices he has made the past six years he has been in power. Some citizens say that Erdogan has not follwed through on promises to advance reforms to get Turkey into the European Union.

“This is a warning vote against the governing party,” said bookseller Istiklal Kozan, as he left a polling station in Istanbul’s Beyoglu neighborhood. Kozan said he was an Erdogan supporter, but added that he cast a protest vote to show his frustration with the AKP’s lack of progress in negotiations to join the EU. Erdogan’s government has been entangled with Turkeys military and judiciary board. Another fight broke out in Kurdish between AKP supporters of Kurdish nationalist party known as the DTP.

The elections have been cancled after a helicopter crashed in the moutains of Eastern Anatolia, killing the head of the fringe Great Union Party, Muhsin Yazicioglu, and five other passengers.

Since elections take precedent in a country, the media has definitely not missed a beat. They have covered each of the quarrels that have broken out in the various cities and have kept the public informed of the different parties involved. The elections are on hold now, but once they begin up again whose going to stop these citizens from fighting and killing people?

If firearms are prohibited then how are people using firearms to fight with? It sounds to me like the security within these elections needs to be stepped up a notch.

Global News Blog: New CNN Programming on Africa

March 3, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Posted by Lindsey Hunsaker

CNN International is launching two new programs for Africa that will air this March in its ongoing project to expand Africa coverage, the Atlanta-based international television station stated. The first show, “African Voices”, a half-hour weekly program, showcases African personalities, across various areas from business and politics, to music, the arts and sport.

The program aims to subject viewers to different perspectives on Africa from those seen in the mainstream media. Presenting the personal insights of the people making headlines and instigating change in Africa and throughout the world, “African Voices” also explores the bigger issues and challenges facing the continent.

The second new program, “Africa Inc”, is a weekly segment contained in CNN’s new flagship business programme, “Quest Means Business” that focuses more on the business affairs of Africa. It highlights stories that spotlight a region that is making its way into the world’s financial spotlight and industries breaking new ground.

“The stories coming out of Africa across political, economic, sporting and cultural spectrum are of increasing interest to an international audience as the world becomes ever more inter-connected,” stated Katherine Green, the SVP of Programming for CNN International in the? online article. ? “We are truly excited to be able to dedicate extra resources, enabling us to go beyond the headlines and explore this diverse continent in all its facets.”

I believe that these new programs will be beneficial to Africa in many ways, but a primary advantage is that viewers of these programs will be opened up to a different perspective on Africa from what they are currently accustomed to seeing on the news. This is a great opportunity for CNN viewers to see a positive light on Africa rather than only hearing about the tragedies facing the continent, from the threat of pirates to the economic and health crises affecting many of its countries.

Global News Blog: Wiretapping Scandal in Colombia

March 1, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Posted by Kendra Kahanek

Whether it is the KGB, or the former United States President Richard Nixon, another government agency falls into a scandal of unlawful wire tapping for information. According to a CNN article, The Colombian domestic intelligence agency remains under an investigation for illegal wiretapping, with a judge establishing that in the future this organization would no longer have authority over any type of electronic interceptions.

One might ask whether this type of technology hinders or helps a nation and consequently it depends. Colombia and the United States contain a democratic type of government in which the people need to trust. Some believe in upholding the rights of each citizen’s right to privacy, including the freedom to talk on a cell phone or any phone without the government listening in on the conversation. Individuals in Columbia may have lost this trust due to the current unlawful wiretapping of phone conversations.

Although wiretapping can create distrust between a government and its publics in any nation, it might hamper the Columbian government’s ability to fight the leftist rebel group known as FARC, which is currently undermining the government in parts of the country. This war has been going on for 40 years. Removing some of these wiretapping abilities from the government would cut down the Columbian intelligence agency’s capability to collect information on the rebel group.

The question remains whether wiretapping conflicts with civilian rights to privacy or is wiretapping necessary to protect our country.

Campus News Blog: Federal Stimulus Package Doesn’t Inspire Hope

February 21, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Nicole Jacobsen

I’ll admit I’m not the savviest person when it comes to issues dealing with the Federal Government. However, with the downward spiral our economy has plundered into, I can’t help but immerse myself in what our government is doing to solve the problem. In this story from CNNMoney.com, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is not optimistic in the recession coming to an end by 2010. Great, I’m going to graduate in the middle of a recession. Graduate school has never sounded so good.

Bernanke was quoted as saying, “This outlook for economic activity is subject to considerable uncertainty, and I believe that, overall, the downside risks probably outweigh those on the upside.” Talk about an uplifting speech.

He also went on to say it would not be necessary to take over failing banks such as Bank of America and Citigroup. Bad news, Bernanke, it looks like we don’t have a choice anymore. While we have analysts arguing that without government intervention banks won’t survive, Bernanke seems to think otherwise.

“How much more we’ll have to do will depend on the state of the banks, how the economy evolves and how much margin of safety we want,” Bernanke said. Umm maybe it’s just my interpretation, but it sounds like we need the banks to survive. Wouldn’t this mean we should be pumping more money into these companies to ensure they stay afloat?

Bernanke also went on to say that without job security and a more stable economy housing sales are going to continue to slide until the economy can build up enough momentum to instill a new sense of faith. Makes sense that people won’t spend money until they are confident it exists.

Mr. Bernanke, I’m sure you’re a very smart and well-educated man, but how do you expect us to continually support these stimulus packages when you’re telling me the negative risks continue to outweigh the positives? It sure doesn’t leave much room for one to hope for the best.

Politics blog: SMU Contributes to CNN Debate Coverage

October 17, 2008 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Donnie Wyar

As the debate portion of this election cycle concluded Wednesday, many voters’ eyes will be closely following poll results in the days leading up to the election less than three weeks away.

Anyone watching the four debates on CNN has seen a real-time chart across the bottom of the screen. The line-graph, which provides instant feedback by monitoring the responses from undecided voters in focus groups selected by the network, was recently mentioned in the Wall Street Journal and the Dallas Morning News.

Drs. Rita Kirk and Dan Schill, professors in SMU’s division of corporate communications and public affairs, are responsible for conducting the studies for CNN and providing those instant results live from Columbus, Ohio, with the help of students Lizzy Brubaker, Elizabeth Langdon, and Rachael Russell.

Langdon, a junior, recent transfer from the University of Central Florida and soon-to be CCPA major, found time to make a difference despite being a member of the rowing team with its off-season 20-hour per week training regimen.

She said the opportunities and connections for SMU students to get out in the real world and obtain job experience “can get you anywhere,” but young people – and students especially – should acknowledge their responsibility to get involved in this election.

“I think it is essential right now,” Langdon said, “but I don’t think a lot of people realize that.

“Being involved is the most important thing,” she said.

Russell, a senior CCPA major and admitted political-news junkie, has worked as head research assistant for Schill and Kirk during the debates. She also answered the call to get involved in what she called a “remarkable experience.”

She, too, found it important for young people to get out to the polls, after making up their own minds.

“Politics is not a place for peer pressure,” she said. Instead, “The election gives young people the opportunity to make decisions for themselves.”

More than anything, Russell said, “Its important that you vote – volunteering and getting involved is great, but bottom line, just vote and make that the priority.”