John Goodwin Tower Distinguished Chair, Josh Rovner, Is Someone Politicizing Intelligence on ISIS?

Political Violence at a Glance

This week the New York Times reported on complaints that the military is altering intelligence estimates in the war against ISIS. According to the Times, civilian analysts in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) claim that officials in U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) have been “improperly reworking” their conclusions in order to present a picture of optimism and progress. While the report is does not contain much detail, critics have already concluded that it is a clear case of politicization. Administration supporters are whitewashing intelligence, they say, rather than face the fact that the administration’s strategy is failing.

Politicization has serious consequences. It skews current intelligence reports and inhibits later reassessment. Episodes of politicization also poison relations between policymakers and intelligence agencies for years after the fact, as happened after a major intelligence-policy breakdown during the Vietnam War. So the claim about doctoring intelligence on ISIS is a serious allegation. Is it true? READ MORE

Student draws inspiration from role in organizing national black fiction writer’s literary retreat

SMU News

River-at-kimbilio-retreat-3

DALLAS (SMU) — When SMU creative writing director David Haynes started planning this summer’s Kimbilio Literary Retreat, a weeklong excursion to SMU-in-Taos for African American fiction writers, he knew he’d need a helping hand.

Where to look? He quickly made up his mind to recruit help from his spring intermediate fiction writing class.

“Haynes offered me a work-study position because he needed help with the Kimbilio website and their social media platforms,” says 20-year-old interdisciplinary studies junior River Ribas. “I said, ‘I’m young. I can help you with that.’”

Ribas didn’t realize it then, but the job description would include a lot more than social media duty by the summer’s end. READ MORE

Linda K. Wertheimer, author of the new book Faith Ed.: Teaching About Religion in an Age of Intolerance, praised Religious Studies Prof. Mark Chancey

KERA, Think

Originally Posted: August 20, 2015

Teaching Without Preaching

Public schools aren’t allowed to encourage students to pursue religion. Yet so much of navigating a diverse world requires an understanding of other people’s beliefs. This hour, we’ll talk about how to prepare students without proselytizing with Linda K. Wertheimer, author of Faith Ed.: Teaching About Religion in an Age of Intolerance (Beacon Press). LISTEN

Matthew Wilson, Political Science, Dallas D.A. Susan Hawks three-week absence creating buzz at courthouse

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: August 22, 2015

Where is Susan Hawk?

Dallas County’s district attorney has been on an abrupt break from work for nearly three weeks — and those close to her won’t say where she is.

Hawk has been off since Aug. 3, a representative said. She has canceled or skipped multiple public appearances during that time, including a high-profile Crimes Against Children Conference, where she was invited to speak. Her absence from the office has become the talk of the Frank Crowley Courts Building, with even her own employees speculating on their boss’s unexplained whereabouts. READ MORE

Cal Jillson, Political Science, on Hillary Clinton e-mails

Christian Science Monitor

Originally Posted: August 14, 2015

Was former Secretary of State Clinton sending or receiving classified information via unsecured e-mails? (So far, the only classified information found in a handful of Clinton e-mails may have been labeled as such after the fact. And it was information received, not sent.)

Why did she hand her private e-mail server and a thumb drive over to the FBI this week after months of resisting? (Likely because the pressure to do so was never going to end.) READ MORE

Remembering A Texan’s Role In Ending World War II

KERA News

Originally Posted: August 17, 2015

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Japan. Two atomic bombs named ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’ were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 in an effort to end World War II. A Texan, Major James Hopkins, piloted one of the planes on the Nagasaki mission.

His son, SMU Professor Emeritus Jim Hopkins, joined KERA’s Justin Martin to talk about his father. LISTEN HERE

Steve Hilts, Philosophy, The Ethical Consumer

KERA, Think

Originally Posted: August 20, 2015

Many of our everyday purchases are made without giving much thought to the businesses we’re supporting. Yet the more we know about how a company operates – and even the political leanings of its C.E.O. – the more those purchases also become ethical decisions. This hour, we’ll talk about how what we know about businesses affects how we spend our money with a panel of business ethics professors. Be sure to check out this recent New York Times story about the dynamics of Amazon, the inspiration for today’s conversation. LISTEN

Jeffrey Engel, Hillary Clinton prods rivals on student debt

New York Times

Originally Posted: August 13, 2015

When Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled her plan this week to make higher education more affordable, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida promptly dismissed it as “Obamacare for college.” Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, asserted that she would burden taxpayers by throwing more federal money at the problem.

But despite early criticism from rivals and pointed questions about the political feasibility of her proposal, Mrs. Clinton’s ambitious, expansive $350 billion plan to reduce debt in higher education has opened a new front in the presidential campaign. It has put pressure on her opponents as she has made a centerpiece of her agenda an issue that resonates across classes, party lines and generations. Read More

Dinosaur-hunting: A Famous Fossil Safari

Dallas Zoo

Originally Posted: August 14, 2015

Just east of Matlock Road in Mansfield, Texas, a small, seemingly unremarkable plot of land overlooks a new shopping center. Graded for construction, the upturned earth impregnated with shale and red clay resembles so many other future building sites across the booming Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Yet this spring, this was the epicenter of a remarkable tale: a rare, 96-million-year-old dinosaur discovery by 5-year-old Wylie Brys and his father, Dallas Zoo employee Tim Brys.

Wylie and Tim suddenly found themselves thrust into the international spotlight: “Texas boy discovers dinosaur bones,” “Not Your Typical Sandbox Find!” and “Jurassic Jackpot,” the headlines shouted, with reports running on hundreds of media outlets, including the BBC, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Associated Press, U.S. News & World Report, and Time. More than 6.5 million people across the country watched accounts of the father-and-son team. ABC World News Tonight Anchor David Muir even introduced Wylie as the “Jurassic kid.” READ MORE