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The College of Arts and Sciences' communications office works closely with Cornell's Media Relations Office. As the College's representatives to media, we connect faculty experts and thought leaders to local, regional, national and international media organizations.
Linda Glaser, Publicist
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Tricia Barry, Communications Director
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Current press statements from Arts & Sciences faculty:
To understand Rohingya crisis, look to Darfur - September 20, 2017
The alleged atrocities in Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine State follow a pattern similar to events in 2003 known as the Darfur genocide in western Sudan according to a Cornell University historian. John Hubbel Weiss, a history professor at Cornell University whose research and teaching focuses on genocidal regimes, says the Rohingya crisis is similar to the Darfur genocide in several key ways.
“Leading up to both atrocities, there was stigmatization of people as the ‘other’, racial historical myths used to back up stigmatization, isolation of the killing fields, and attacks on free speech.
“In both instances we’ve seen a military that promotes militias to help with ‘ethnic cleansing,’ attacks on civilians that are deliberately atrocious as a terrorizing device to drive out a population, and a government who labels those actively defending victims of ‘ethnic cleansing’ as terrorists. The events in Rakhine State appear to be Darfur all over again.”
Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis risks regional destabilization
Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis risks regional destabilization
Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis has now escalated into a massive international, humanitarian and political catastrophe with hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar. Amid increasing international criticism, Myanmar’s civilian leader – and Nobel peace prize winner – Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to give a speech on Tuesday in which she will address the Rohingya crisis. Magnus Fiskesjö, an associate professor in Cornell University’s department of anthropology and expert on Southeast Asia, says that if no policy reversal comes from Myanmar’s government, the country’s leadership would set a grave precedent and risks regional destabilization.
“Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis has now escalated into a massive international humanitarian and political catastrophe, with about 400,000 Rohingya forcibly expelled to Bangladesh. As many as half are children. Starvation and disease looms.
“The armed forces of Myanmar used an Aug. 25 incident as pretext to unleash an orchestrated ethnic-cleansing campaign, burning villages, killing and intimidating Rohingya civilians. The goal is evidently to expel or eliminate this long-resident people, now scapegoated as illegal immigrants.
“Myanmar’s civilian government is sidelined, but it did claim all residents would be protected, citizens or not – yet it said refugees won’t be allowed back without papers! But Myanmar’s government has systematically stripped the Rohingya of their citizenship and confiscated their papers, – actions that should have been recognizable as steps toward today’s ‘final-solution’ campaign.
“This Saturday, UN Secretary-General Guterres said Myanmar must cease the violence and guarantee the refugees’ right of return. Guterres urged Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civilian leader, to seize the ‘last chance’ to reverse course, or the catastrophe may be ‘irreversible.’
“If no reversal comes, an ominous precedent is set of impunity for grave crimes against humanity. Further likely outcomes include the destabilization of the region, and more conflict and terror worldwide.”
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Newark Public Schools
Local control new beginning for Newark Public Schools - September 14, 2017
After years of battles between state and local leaders, the New Jersey Board of Education voted to allow Newark to resume control of the city’s school district, recognizing an improvement in the schools’ performance, management and budget. Noliwe Rooks, associate professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University, is author of “Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education” a book that traces the financing of education in America from the civil war to today. Rooks says that the decision to return local control to Newark Public Schools presents an opportunity to create a quality education for the community.
“It is wonderful news that the Newark Public Schools may soon return to a more democratic form of governance where parents, children and students will have the opportunity to participate in the shape of the curriculum and instruction in their schools.
“Local control of schools may not be any more of a silver bullet leading to educational opportunity and equity than was state control, but it is certainly a welcome step in the right direction toward the residents in Newark being able to fully participate in their own futures.
“I believe that we need much more of a nationwide discussion about state and local communities organizing to argue for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a quality education, but such an effort cannot possibly take place without such communities having access to more, not less democracy.”
Cassini's last days
Cassini’s mission revolutionized understanding of outer solar system - September 12, 2017
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft only has a few days left before its final approach to the giant planet Saturn. On Sept. 15, Cassini will dive into Saturn’s atmosphere, sending science data for as long as it can, and then melt and break apart.
Alexander Hayes is an assistant professor of astronomy at Cornell University. Hayes is available for interviews starting today, and will be at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Friday when Cassini takes its final plunge. He says the extraordinary mission has touched us all.
"Cassini-Huygens is an extraordinary mission of discovery that has revolutionized our understanding of the outer solar system. From landing a probe on Titan’s surface and unveiling a landscape strikingly similar to our own to discovering evidence of potentially habitable deep sea hydrothermal vents in the plumes of Enceladus, Cassini has shown us again and again that there is always something new and unexpected waiting just around the corner.
“In addition to the science, Cassini is a platform for international collaboration and has acted as an incubator for a substantial portion of the outer planets science community. There are at least five generations of scientists represented on the team and, in my opinion, many of Cassini’s greatest successes have come from the teams’ capacity to encourage and facilitate young scientists to find new ways to use the instruments and work the data.
“From freshman undergraduates to emeritus faculty to citizens scientists and families watching Discovery Channel, Cassini has touched us all.”
Jonathan Lunine, the David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell University and director of the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, has worked on Cassini for 34 years. Jonathan Lunine will also be at NASA’s JPL facility this week for Cassini’s demise. After two decades in space, he says the mission has shown us the way in the search for other life in this solar system.
“The end of Cassini triggers a lot of feelings for those of us who have been a part of the mission. Most of all that this is a job well done – the mission far exceeded, by any possible measure, what we hoped it would accomplish. There is also sadness: Cassini has given us so much scientific knowledge and unexpected discoveries that it’s hard to see it end.
“But there is also excitement, because Cassini has shown us the way forward in the search for other life in this solar system. Its discovery of plumes of ice and dust shooting out of the ocean moon Enceladus, for example, is like a beacon beckoning us to return.”
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Trump's debt ceiling deal with Democrats
Trump-Democrat debt-ceiling deal compounds GOP woes - September 7, 2017
David A. Bateman, an expert in American political development, political parties and ideology and assistant professor of government at Cornell University, says that President Trump has compounded problems for congressional Republicans by agreeing to a bipartisan deal on the debt ceiling with Democratic leaders.
“Trump put Republicans in a difficult position with DACA repeal; he has now compounded it by agreeing to the Democrats’ plan for the debt ceiling. When Trump passed the DACA buck to Congress, the best option for congressional Republicans was to pass the buck to congressional Democrats.
“As the steward of his caucus, Paul Ryan could have brought up a legislative fix – now the top priority of Democrats – only if it were attached to GOP priorities. In that case, it is unclear what Democrats would do: Any substantial concession, on a border wall, taxes or appropriations, would be dispiriting for their base and reward the president’s cynical abuse of authority; but opposition would allow the GOP to cast Democratic intransigence as responsible for the unfolding moral catastrophe.
“Trump the buck-passer has now made GOP buck passing much more difficult. The problem for congressional Republicans is that they have a series of must-pass bills that give the Democrats leverage. By agreeing to a three-month deal, rather than the eighteen-month plan desired by Ryan and McConnell, Democrats get to flip the GOP’s script: It will now be Pelosi and Schumer attaching DACA to the GOP’s must-pass legislation – forcing a shutdown or a showdown on the debt ceiling unless these re-authorize DACA – rather than the other way around.
“This not only puts the onus back on the GOP, but it eats up the most precious legislative commodity, time. Still, while the political responsibility is now on Congress, the moral culpability is Trump’s alone.”