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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:
Germany's political stalemate
Despite stalemate, Merkel’s twilight is still not in sight - November 22, 2017
Germany is locked in a political stalemate after coalition talks failed and the liberal Free Democrats announced its withdrawal from the negotiations. If the impasse continues, Angela Merkel – who was voted in to form a government in September – may have to trigger snap elections.
Mona Krewel, an assistant professor of government at Cornell University, expert on German politics and author of the recently published book Modernization of German Election Campaigns?, comments on the possibility of snap elections and what that would mean for Germany and Angela Merkel’s future. Krewel is currently in Germany and is available for interviews.
“The Free Democratic Party (FDP) played a risky game. Leaving the Jamaica coalition talks might backfire on them should it come to snap elections.
“The Social Democrats’ future does not look rosy either. They have just started to discuss the renewal of their party and elections would come much too early for them.
“The Green party on the other hand might profit from disappointed SPD voters, as they have actively searched a way out of the September elections’ result and have been willing to compromise in the Jamaica talks. Therefore, they should be able to win additional votes compared to their result two months ago. One man’s meat, is another man’s poison.
“If the Christian Democratic Union, the Christian Social Union and the Greens stick to their story line that the end of the coalition talks must be fully accredited to the FDP, then voters should gather behind Merkel one more time and enable her to pull off a victory.
“However, Angela Merkel will probably have to deal with yet another difficult result that does not suggest a clear will of the electorate. But bolstered by the voters she might then either risk a minority government with the Green party, or could be able to convince the Social Democrats to join yet another grand coalition. Therefore, it is much too early to speak of the twilight of Merkel. I would not be surprised to see her muddling her way out of this and survive yet another political earthquake in the end.”
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Political reform unlikely in post-Mugabe Zimbabwe - November 16, 2017
This week, Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for almost four decades, was ousted by military leaders who seized control of state institutions and detained Mugabe and his wife. Analysts believe former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa – whose firing earlier this month may have fueled the coup – will be installed as Zimbabwe’s president until new elections next year. Nicolas van de Walle, government professor at Cornell University whose research focuses on democratization and the politics of economic reform in Africa, says the coup may temper Mugabe’s excesses but is unlikely to bring about political reform.
van de Walle says:
“The post-Mugabe era has begun in Zimbabwe, the country he ruled with guile and ruthlessness for 37 years. In a classic palace coup, the army has intervened to give power to Emmerson Mnangagwa, his former vice president and the regime’s second most powerful figure.
“The coup concludes a long struggle within the regime to decide who will succeed the 93-year-old president. Mnangagwa and Grace Mugabe, the president’s wife, had long been viewed as the heads of the two main factions jostling for control. With his background in intelligence, Mnangagwa’s power comes from the fact that he knows where all the bodies are buried. He also has long been viewed as close to the military, which moved on his behalf after Grace Mugabe had convinced her husband of removing him from power last week. The coup was the army’s response.
“Like all palace coups, this one is unlikely to bring about significant political change. It confirms again that the army remains the most powerful actor in the country; one, indeed that Mugabe has carefully cultivated for many years, even as he undermined other political institutions. At 75, Mnangagwa may lessen the random capriciousness that had become a hallmark of the aging Mugabe, but he is unlikely to embark on major political reform.”
History of Thanksgiving
This Thanksgiving, forget about the food - November 15, 2017
Historian Adrienne Rose Johnson specializes in the history and culture of American food, but this Thanksgiving, she says, forget about the feast and remember our history of giving thanks.
“In the bleakest, ugliest depths of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday to commemorate the ‘blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.’ Americans too easily ‘forget the source from which they come,’ Lincoln said, and asked that Thanksgiving be a time when peace, lawfulness, and harmony were ‘solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged.’ The cruelties of war demanded reverence; the extraordinary, undeserved blessings of life demanded thanksgiving.
“‘Turkey Day’ remembers little of this history. Lincoln didn’t care about the food and perhaps we shouldn’t either. In the last thirty years, ‘Turkey Day’ has substituted thanks for a fowl. The food renaissance — turducken or truffle pudding — has both generated enormous creativity, recovered culinary traditions, and shifted the focus of Thanksgiving to the feast.
“True, a good home-cooked meal with family is a treat. And even more true, the menu makes sense: wild turkeys are native to North America, Native Americans developed maize agriculture, and pumpkins spread from Mexico to North American through trade and migration over 3000 years ago.
“But it’s misguided to celebrate the turkey more than the thanks. We have Americans eating turkey in their MREs and at mess halls in the Middle East. So instead of wishing each other a happy ‘Turkey Day,’ let’s remember ‘Thanksgiving:’ an opportunity to give thanks for the joys of a feast that continues, unabated, despite all the “lamentable civil strife” and aggression, to borrow Lincoln’s words. And to remember how joy and togetherness are also bound to our long, challenging history."
Trump's agenda ignored in Asia
Despite red carpet, Trump agenda in Asia largely ignored - November 13, 2017
As President Trump nears the end of his first trip to Asia, foreign policy experts are gauging the possible effect the 12-day long diplomatic tour will have on U.S. economic and political relations in the region. Annelise Riles, professor of far east legal studies and anthropology at Cornell University and the founder and director of policy innovation platform Meridian 180, says the trip marks an historic moment in the ongoing decline of U.S. power in Asia.
“Historians will date this trip as a key moment in the decline of U.S. power in the Asia-Pacific region, when Asian leaders stepped up and took the reins.
“On trade, Asian leaders largely ignored the Trump administration’s efforts to squash the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and pledged to forge ahead on their own. This is an exciting development given accusations by some that TPP was simply a U.S. initiative.
“We now see that the commitment to a regional trade agreement, and the willingness to lead towards that outcome, was in fact broad and local. In Korea, China and Japan, it was Asian leaders, not Trump, who set the agenda. Despite all the red carpet, Trump’s own agenda was largely ignored.”
GOP Tax Plan
Splits in GOP base make tax plan dead-on-arrival - November 1, 2017
After much debate and delays, congressional Republicans are scheduled to release their tax bill on Thursday. Elizabeth Sanders, professor of government at Cornell, studies economic regulations and political parties’ alignment. She says that disagreement on tax reform – as in the case of health care reform – is an indicator of how the Republican Party is split between two distant bases and headed toward a significant shift.
“The GOP internal debate over tax reform is more evidence that Trump and his party call on dissimilar bases, suggesting that pressure for party realignment is building.
“As with the Affordable Care Act, Trump first turned over the bill’s construction to party leaders. But their formulaic GOP construction immediately produced an outcry from a large number of organized interests, and from party dissidents concerned about the Trump base among working-class and lower middle-class Americans. That led Trump to object to changes in the 401(k) plan that would increase taxes and discourage saving for retirement among people of modest means. So, back to the drawing boards.
“Of course, many other objections are arising: the House bill will increase the deficit Trump said he was concerned about during the campaign, it is incurring strong opposition in high-tax states that want to keep state and local tax credits, and among charities concerned about losing donations, people in the housing industry concerned about changes in mortgage tax deductions, and Democrats who see repeal of the estate tax as a huge gift to the very rich – and only the very rich are still subject to the estate tax. It is thus tempting to see this as another dead-on-arrival proposal that again reveals deep cleavages in the GOP, and strengthens the Democrats’ hand in the next two elections.”