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Obama’s great dilemma: to be or not to be the world’s policeman
Michael Cohen September 19, 2014

TCF fellow, Michael Cohen has written about President Obama's reluctant intervention against ISIS for The Guardian.

Iraq… America just can't quit you. For 23 years and across four presidencies, American planes have been waging war either against or on behalf of Iraqis. And if President Obama's prediction of a long-term struggle against Isis is correct, it might soon be five presidents and a quarter of a century.

How does that keep happening? How did a candidate who won the nation's highest office on a platform of ending the war in Iraq find himself six years later announcing yet another military engagement in Iraq? How has a president who has seemingly made it his priority to pivot to Asia, rely less on the military and put forward a more restrained foreign policy been thwarted once again?

Read the full article.

Entering the Syrian Minefield
Thanassis Cambanis September 19, 2014

TCF fellow, Thanassis Cambanis has appeared on Ian Masters' Background Briefing to discuss the state of the civil war in Syria.

We examine an increasingly deadly and intractable civil war next door in Syria, further inflamed by the beheading of a third Western hostage by the Islamic State which is likely to draw the United States further into a conflict involving 1,500 rival militia groups fighting among themselves and occasionally against the Assad regime, that has resulted in the deaths of 200,000 Syrians, the destruction of the country and the displacement of a third of Syria’s population.

Read the full article

The dangerous, valuable work of U.N. peacekeepers
Stephen Schlesinger September 19, 2014

TCF fellow, Stephen Schlesinger has written an op-ed for the LA Times about UN peacekeepers. 

In mid-August, two United Nations peacekeepers from Burkina Faso were killed and several wounded in a suicide attack in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali. In early September, also in Mali, four peacekeeping troops from Chad lost their lives and many were injured when their convoy hit a mine.

This brings the total number of U.N. personnel who have died so far this year due to hostile action to 12; last year, 36 lost their lives. In addition, in late August, 45 U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji monitoring the Golan Heights were seized by a Syrian militant group allied with Al Qaeda and held as hostages for two weeks before being released Sept. 11.

Read the full article.

What’s so bad about monopoly power?
Mark Thoma September 18, 2014

TCF fellow, Mark Thoma has written a piece for CBS News about the problems with monopoly power.

Google (GOOG) has been negotiating with European regulatory authorities since 2010 in an attempt to settle an antitrust case concerning its search engine, and its third attempt to settle the case has been rejected.

Google may also face new antitrust problems over its Android mobile operating system, and it's not alone in facing tough antitrust scrutiny in Europe. Microsoft (MSFT) has also been the subject of a long-running battle in Europe over market dominance issues.

But what's motivating this scrutiny from European regulators? What's so bad about a company amassing monopoly power?

Read the full article.

Holder calls for bigger rewards for whistleblowers
Robert C. Hockett September 18, 2014

TCF fellow, Robert C. Hockett has been quoted in a CBS News article about rewarding whistleblowers.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today called on Congress to provide bigger financial rewards to Wall Street whistleblowers, arguing that the current payoffs are too small to entice executives to provide evidence against their employers who have committed wrongdoing. He is hopeful that such cooperation would lead to criminal cases connected to the financial crisis.

Under The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), which deals with fraud committed against investors, whistleblower awards are capped at $1.6 million. Holder argues that is a "paltry sum" for a highly paid financial services executive who is aware of illegal activities to report them to the government. He wants FIRREA's awards to be more in line with the False Claims Act under which whistleblowers are entitled to up to one-third the settlement amount.

Read the full article.

Mark Thoma’s Piece Featured on Wonkblog
Mark Thoma September 18, 2014

TCF fellow Mark Thoma's article on new economic thinking has been featured on the Wonkblog.

See the full article here.

Can New Economic Thinking Solve the Next Crisis?
Mark Thoma September 18, 2014

TCF fellow, Mark Thoma has written an article for The Fiscal Times about new economic thinking.

Efforts such as Rethinking Economics and The Institute for New Economic Thinking are noteworthy attempts to, as INET says, “broaden and accelerate the development of new economic thinking that can lead to solutions for the great challenges of the 21st century. The havoc wrought by our recent global financial crisis has vividly demonstrated the deficiencies in our outdated current economic theories, and shown the need for new economic thinking – right now.

It is certainly true that mainstream, modern macroeconomic models failed us prior to and during the Great Recession. The models failed to give any warning at all about the crisis that was about to hit – if anything those using modern macro models resisted the idea that a bubble was inflating in housing markets – and the models failed to give us the guidance we needed to implement effective monetary and fiscal policy responses to our economic problems.

Read the full article.

Speaking Truth to Educational Policy: A Review of Mettler’s Degrees of Inequality
Suzanne Mettler September 18, 2014

TCF fellow Suzanne Mettler's book, Degrees of Inequality, has been profiled on The Huffington Post.

In August 1988, I boarded Singapore Airlines flight from India to Los Angles to start my graduate work at the University of Southern California. I arrived at USC, an eager teaching assistant, and I was immediately blown away by the California Higher Ed Master Plan, by the big idea, the big ideal, that education is a fundamental "right." I remember being struck by the three-tiered Higher Ed system in California with the community college role of providing opportunities for all -- and I repeat for all.

This commitment, I believe, is the heart of Suzanne Mettler's book Degrees of Inequality. She provides a glimpse of this when she is not having you work through the details of her analysis and eight years of studies. Her father, John Mettler said: "I told each of my daughters that I wanted her to get a college degree so that she could support herself, and then she could marry any damn bum she wanted." And on page 203 she talks about her sister Jeanne: "..a criminal defense attorney and as a teacher has devoted several decades of her life to helping young people who grew up in far more difficult circumstances to have greater opportunities." -- this is the American Dream!

Read the full article.

What do economists mean by “slack”?
Mark Thoma September 18, 2014

TCF fellow, Mark Thoma has written an article for CBS News about the quantity of labor and capital that isn't employed productively.

With Federal Reserve officials scheduled today to issue its latest readout on the U.S. economy, a key theme at the central bank's two-day policy meeting is almost certainly how much economic "slack" remains. But what, exactly, is slack, and how is it measured? How much uncertainty is there about this measurement? And what does the current degree of slack in the economy tell us about how the Fed is thinking about monetary policy?

The amount of slack in the economy is essentially a measure of the quantity of unemployed resources. It represents the quantity of labor and capital that could be employed productively, but isn't; instead, it is idle. More formally, it is defined as the difference between the economy's productive capacity -- the amount of goods and services that could be produced if all labor and capital were fully and efficiently employed -- and the actual level of economic output.

Read the full article.

Congressional Hearing on ISIS: Where is Syria?
Michael Wahid Hanna September 18, 2014

TCF senior fellow, Michael Wahid Hanna has been mentioned in a Brookings Institute article about the U.S. strategy aganist ISIS.

Congressional hearings aren’t always illuminating, but this time they were. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tried — and, at times, struggled — to minimize the apparent contradictions of our evolving policy. Taken together, their remarks confirm what many have suspected — that there is, and will continue to be, a gaping hole at the heart of our ISIS strategy. That hole is Syria.

Despite all the talk about boosting mainstream Syrian rebels (“mainstream” or “non-extremist” are more appropriate descriptors than “moderate”), the administration hasn’t proposed any new funding beyond the $500 million in aid requested by the president in June, well before ISIS conquered the headlines. At the time, the plan was dismissed as being far too small. As one defense official said, “I get the sense no one really wants to do it.”

Read the full article.

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Upcoming Events

A Smarter Charter: A Discussion with Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter
Monday, September 29, 2014 AT 5:30PMA conversation with Teachers College Press authors Richard D. Kahlenberg and Halley Potter.
A Smarter Charter: Book Release and Response
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The Delicate Balance: Media, Security & Freedom in a Post 9/11 World
Monday, September 22, 2014 at 6:00PMThe panel will also examine the upcoming Senate Intelligence Committee report on interrogations, the case of journalist James Risen, the continuing debate over Edward Snowden's release of NSA documents and whether transparency comes with a cost to our national security.
A Smarter Charter: Charter Schools and Public Education in New York
September 16, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PMTogether with a panel of local educators and leaders, they will discuss how charter schools can best serve communities in Brooklyn and New York City.
2014 Intern Policy Forum Series
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Lumina Ideas Summit: New Pathways to Higher Education Diversity
June 17, 2014 9:00 AM

This summit will reinforce the importance of racial and socioeconomic diversity in higher education, and identify new paths to achieving these goals relative to legal constraints recently determined by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The New Internationalism: Foreign Policy After Afghanistan and Iraq
Tuesday, June 17, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 1:30 PM (EDT)TCF fellow Michael Cohen joins other panelists to discuss foreign policy after the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The American Conservative with The American Prospect and the Institute for Security and Conflict Studies are hosting the event in Washington, D.C.
Educational Justice and the Integration of America’s Schools
Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12 p.m.-2 p.m. TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg joins the Shanker Institute for a panel discussion marking the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Today, the promise of that historic decision remains unfulfilled. The progress made toward desegregating American schools has not simply stalled, but is increasingly being reversed across the nation. Today, New York schools are the most segregated in the nation.
Inequality Begins at Birth: Child Poverty in America
June 10, 2014 8:30 AM - 3:30 PMJoin TCF's newest fellow Jeff Madrick for a day-long event to discuss America's child poverty problem. The conference, Inequality Begins at Birth: Child Poverty in America, is sponsored by The Century Foundation’s Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative, the Roosevelt Institute and the Academic Pediatric Association. America’s child poverty rate, currently above 22 percent—the highest in the developed world—is one of the nation’s gravest social problems. On June 10, keynote speaker Senator Cory Booker and three panels of economists, policy experts, and child povertyactivists will come together to discuss solutions for helping the nation’s most vulnerable. Lunch will be provided. There will be a live web cast of the event. RSVP HERE.
Richard Kahlenberg speaks at National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development
May 27, 2014 11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg will give a keynote lecture for the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development. Hear from “best-in-class” general session keynote speakers and be inspired by their insights and advice. Gain valuable information from some of the brightest stars in education today as they share their experience and expertise.

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