Local Approach May Be Key to Combating Digital Discrimination

Remember when the “digital divide” was developed as a shorthand to describe those Americans who had broadband network access compared to those who did not? Clearly, in a society that revolves around digital technologies and content, being on the wrong side of that divide may mean fewer educational, professional, and personal opportunities.

The good news for many Americans is that the number of persons without access to high-speed broadband at home continues to shrink. Clearly, there is a way to go to achieve near-universal broadband access, but the trend line is pointing in the right direction.

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Threats on Campuses Need To Be Dealt With Directly

The recent explosive congressional hearing with presidents from among some of the nation’s most elite universities – Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania – nearly broke the Internet.  All three academic leaders could not clearly state that advocating genocide against Jews might violate their campus codes of conduct.  Politicians of all stripes – along with students, faculty, alumni, and prominent donors – were shocked that what seemed like something defined by a bright line of morality would be portrayed as requiring nuance in response.

Elizabeth Magill, Penn’s president, created the most memorable soundbite while under intense questioning by Rep. Elise Stefanik, (R-N.Y.).  When asked by Stefanik whether calling for the genocide of Jews constituted bullying or harassment, Magill soberly replied, “It is a context-dependent decision, congresswoman.” 

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Henry Kissinger: RIP for America’s First TV Diplomat

“Hang up the phone and come by my office now so we can chat.” Whenever I heard those words in that familiar German-inflected low register, I knew that it was time for a quick ride down the elevator at The Museum of Television & Radio in New York, then a brisk walk from there on 52nd Street to meet Henry Kissinger a few blocks away at his Park Avenue office.

Dr. Kissinger was a close friend of the museum’s founder, William S. Paley, the legendary chairman and CEO of CBS. He was an original member of its Board of Trustees, and remained involved in that capacity until his recent death at 100 years old. Kissinger was not just another name on the illustrious roster that graced our letterhead, either;  after all, he didn’t need to be there to burnish his resume.

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Soundbite-Happy Media Get ‘Genocide’ Wrong

Here’s what three-time Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo, who as “The Hulk” plays a prominent role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, posted on Twitter (now X) in 2021:

“I have reflected & wanted to apologize for posts during the recent Israel/Hamas fighting that suggested Israel is committing ‘genocide.’ It’s not accurate, it’s inflammatory, disrespectful & is being used to justify antisemitism here & abroad. Now is the time to avoid hyperbole.”

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The Important Formative Years of a Legendary First Amendment Advocate 

The new PBS “American Masters” documentary, Floyd Abrams: Speaking Freely, chronicles legendary First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams.  It largely focuses on the amazing trajectory of his career in this vital area of constitutional law.  

As a young law firm associate on Wall Street, Abrams was a pivotal member of the legal team that successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that the national security concerns advanced by the U.S. Department of Justice did not justify a publication prior restraint of the Pentagon Papers by The New York Times.   

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U.S. Needs an Urgent Action Plan To Save Presidential Debates

The modern norm of televised presidential debates may not survive our highly polarized political environment, unless a new action plan is established soon to ensure this staple of American electoral life continues in 2024.

In 1960, on a one-time-only basis, Congress enabled the historic Kennedy-Nixon debates to take place. The law it suspended – Section 315(a) of the Communications Act of 1934, which required “equal opportunities” for all candidates – subsequently resumed in full force. As a result, there were no presidential debates in 1964, 1968, or 1972.

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Explicitly Addressing College Self-Censorship in the New Academic Year

With the beginning of the college academic year, those of us teaching this fall are drafting various course syllabi – seeing what might be worth revisiting, such as new readings that might be added.

But all too often, the upfront syllabus boilerplate sections are overlooked since they are cut and pasted from previous versions of the same course or similar ones.  Unfortunately, a section dealing with free expression in the classroom is missing in many.

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Congress Needs Real Intelligence To Address Artificial Intelligence

In our age of hyper-partisan politics, one area that seems to be attracting notable bipartisan congressional concern, including various potential legislative approaches, is the real-time development and implementation of artificial intelligence.  AI’s reach across many economic sectors and its effect on education, medical research, and national security poses complex legal, social, and moral questions that need to be addressed.

The Senate’s hearings in May clearly demonstrated that Democrats and Republicans were eager to learn more.  As Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) noted, “We could be looking at one of the most significant technological innovations in human history.”  At the other end of the political spectrum, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) clearly agreed with Hawley’s assessment regarding what is at stake.  “The magnitude of the challenge … is substantial.  I’m not sure that we respond quickly and with enough expertise to deal with it.”

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Media and Other Stakeholders Should Have a Role in Future Pandemic Planning

A major COVID-19 milestone was achieved last month that indicates the downward infection and hospitalization rates caused by it have now receded to justify dropping its designation as an active pandemic. The United States ended its federal Public Health Emergency on May 11 and used that announcement to herald the incredible national effort regarding testing, vaccines, and treatment.

Of course, given recent history, there is a high likelihood that another global pandemic looms. In light of the enormous difficulties nations worldwide faced in developing effective COVID-19 coordinated responses, the task ahead will be equally formidable – namely, how to mitigate massive public health threats in a timely and effective way.

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How Silicon Valley’s Leap Ahead Was Preceded by Visible Government Footsteps

The recent passing of Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore at age 94 has brought back well-deserved stories about how this tech legend played a leading role in developing silicon microprocessors, which served as the foundation for the exponential growth of our modern computer age. But this Big Bang in Silicon Valley was preceded by a series of events that created the environment that allowed Moore and his brilliant colleagues – notably Intel co-founder Robert Noyce – to achieve the technological breakthroughs that have changed the world.

Silicon Valley is a noted center of technological advancement and entrepreneurship, achieving innovations that have left lasting and unmatched imprints on society, here and abroad. Its centrality to such developments as the personal computer, social networks, and cloud computing has made the region so successful, with continual fueling by venture capital. Few are aware, however, that the staggering growth of the area had its roots in Washington, D.C., during the regulation-intensive climate of the late 1940s through the late 1950s.

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