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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:
Political Upheaval in Armenia
Unpopular leader falls to Armenian velvet revolution - April 25, 2018
Lori Khatchadourian, associate professor at the department of Near Eastern Studies and a scholar of the Soviet and post-Soviet Caucasus, comments on the political upheaval and street protests that have gripped Armenia over the last two weeks, prompting the resignation of the country’s prime minister, Serzh Sargsyan.
“The timing for a ‘velvet revolution’ in Armenia could not have been more auspicious.
“On April 24, Armenians around the world commemorated the Armenian genocide, which was itself a suppressive response to a movement for civil rights among Ottoman Armenians. To repress this week’s popular movement with force would have placed Armenia’s prime minister, Serzh Sargsyan, in an unimaginable parallel structural position with the Young Turks.
“It remains to be seen whether this revolution will lead to real reform, but for now Armenians are taking a moment to celebrate an unprecedented surrender of an unpopular sovereign to the will of the people.”
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Cuba's Change in Leadership
No more Castro: Cuba’s change of guards starts a day early - April 16, 2018
This week, Cuba will undergo a historical transition. Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother Fidel as president in 2008, will officially leave that office and Cuba’s National Assembly is to pick the country’s next leader — the first not bearing the Castro name in more than 60 years. While the change has great symbolism, Cubans’ economic hardship will continue to be top of the agenda for the new president who will likely stay on the path of economic liberalization, Cornell University experts say.
Gustavo Flores-Macias studies political development in Latin America with a focus on the politics of economic reform. He says that a younger generation of politicians in Cuba will have to contend with severe problems both domestically and in U.S.-Cuba relations.
“Raul Castro has promised he will step down as Cuba’s president on April 19. Since Raul will remain at the helm of both the country's Communist Party and the armed forces, the glacial pace of political and economic liberalization is expected to continue, at least in the short run.
“However, the changing of the guards will have major symbolism, as it will mark the start of the generational transition in Cuba.
“Without a Castro formally at the head of the Cuban government, a younger leader without the legitimacy of the revolution will have to navigate the island’s many domestic and international challenges, from resolving Cuba’s problematic dual currency system to weathering President Trump’s return to a Cold War antagonism in U.S.-Cuba relations.”
Lourdes Casanova is director of the Emerging Markets Institute at Cornell. She says that with Raul Castro still at the helm of party ranks, internal pressures may play a big role in the new president’s policy decisions.
“Trying to solve the Cuban economic recession will be Raul Castro’s successor biggest challenge. With an average salary of about $30 a month, Cubans’ demands for a better life will, quite likely, take center stage.
“Solutions to the economic crisis are limited, among other things, because of Trump’s hard stand towards Cuba. The new president may have no choice but to move towards a more market friendly economy.
“However, Raul Castro, generally considered a hardliner, will stay on as head of the Communist Party and from there, he will try to keep control on the new president’ policies. It remains to be seen how these internal politics will play out with the demands of Cubans for more political freedom and a better economy.”
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TESS satellite to hunt for new worlds ‘in our cosmic backyard’ - April 10, 2018
NASA’s new satellite telescope, designed to hunt for planets outside our solar system — some which may harbor life — is scheduled to launch on April 16 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The telescope, known as Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, signals a new era in exoplanet research that could shed light on planets in our neighboring solar systems.
Lisa Kaltenegger is director of Cornell University’s Carl Sagan Institute and one of the world’s leading experts on exoplanets. She serves as a member on the TESS science team and will be at the launch and available for media interviews. She says TESS is important because it will find exoplanets “in our cosmic backyard.”
“The Kepler space telescope found an astounding number of exoplanets, but most of them are many, many light years away, too dim for us to learn much about them. That’s why TESS is so important: it will find exoplanets around stars in our cosmic backyard. TESS will provide a list of our top neighboring worlds for any follow up observations, as well as any far future travel plans.
“TESS is small but it is mighty, because it will search the whole sky, all the bright stars we can see at night, for worlds orbiting them. When looking up at night, we will be able to point at bright stars in the night sky and say - right there, there is a star that hosts another Venus, Mars, or maybe even another Earth.
“I can't wait to see TESS launch, and participate as the next step in human exploration of new worlds takes shape.”
TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
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Kim Jong-un visits China
Despite appearance, China’s leadership likely seething at Kim’s visit - March 28, 2018
Yesterday’s unprecedented meeting between North Korean’s leader Kim Jong-un and China’s president Xi Jinping showed Kim’s willingness to engage in diplomacy after a long period of estrangement. But Cornell University government professor Andrew Mertha, who studies Chinese political institutions and the inner workings of the Chinese Communist Party, says that recent developments in U.S.-North Korea relations have left Beijing scrambling.
“President Trump’s surprise announcement of a direct meeting with Kim Jing-un was not particularly welcome to China, a country that hates surprises.
“Beijing has to scramble to stay in the game with events moving at an uncomfortable breakneck speed. Whatever effect the Trump-Kim meeting will have, it will be felt most directly by China and by South Korea, so this was an important, if hasty and suboptimal, opportunity for Beijing to let Pyongyang know what China can and cannot accept in terms of regional security.
“And although China put a positive face on it, the leadership is likely privately seething at being forced to meet with the somewhat less-than-beloved Kim under circumstances not properly stage-managed by Beijing.”