Daily Archives: March 9, 2020

African and African-American Studies Celebrates 50 years | Harvard Magazine


Last Saturday evening, toward the end of a two-day symposium commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the African and African-American studies department (AAAS)—an event filled with stories and music, memories of struggle and achievement, and with searching discussions about the future of the field—Cornel West put into words an uneasiness that had been tugging at the celebrations all weekend long. “We’ve got to recognize,” said the professor of the practice of public philosophy, “that this golden age that we’re talking about coincides with a catastrophic age for black, poor, and working people.”

West was speaking as part of a panel on scholar-activism, but there was broader resonance in what he said. The previous evening, Farah Jasmine Griffin ’85, chair of Columbia’s African American and African Diaspora studies department, had delivered a keynote address articulating a similar contradiction. “The rise of right-wing populist nationalism, naked white supremacy, and neo-fascism throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia,” she said, “has been especially striking just as the knowledge produced by African-American studies has informed contemporary movements against mass incarceration and state-sanctioned violence against people of color.”

Claudine Gay, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Clowett professor of government and African and African-American studies, spoke of the department’s founding as a “watershed moment in what, frankly, remains an ongoing project of building a truly inclusive scholarly community.” Later, Sangu Delle ’10, M.B.A. ’16, J.D. ’17, an entrepreneur and activist for health care and clean water rights in West Africa, described his arrival at Harvard, with its African studies concentration, as the culmination of a dream he’d had since he was a five-year-old boy living in Ghana. “But let’s face it,” he cautioned: “It is not a given that what we celebrate today will continue. These gains can go away tomorrow with a different [University] administration. It is not enough for us to sit and rest on the charity of those in power; we need to sustain and hold onto those gains.”

And yet, those gains are also real and remarkable. The student movement to push for what would become AAAS began days after Martin Luther King’s assassination in April 1968, with an advertisement placed in the Harvard Crimson demanding courses and an endowed chair for a black professor. Within weeks, a 10-member ad hoc committee was established to negotiate with the University for a department of African-American studies with the power to appoint and promote its own faculty and set its own curriculum. In 1969, after mass protests and months of tense talks, the faculty approved the department’s founding. In 1972, the first class of 14 students graduated with degrees in Afro-American studies.

During a panel discussion moderated by Fletcher University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., alumni and professors who took part in the founding spoke about those early days. “I did not appreciate sufficiently the political importance of what we were doing,” said Henry Rosovsky, the former dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, who released a report in 1969 calling for a black studies department and research institute. “This was a hell of a lot more than just an academic program.” Jeffrey Howard ’69, Ph.D. ’80, a member of the ad hoc committee, recalled, “We wanted to be seen and recognized as an important part of American society. And the department seemed to be a vehicle for that.” Sociologist Orlando Patterson, who joined the faculty in January 1970, recalled arriving on a Harvard campus full of noise and excitement and promise.

…(read more).


“It’s a Real Mess”: Afghan Rivals Both Claim Presidency as Ongoing Attac ks Could Derail Peace Deal

Democracy Now!

Mar 9, 2020

Since last month’s U.S.-Taliban peace plan, there have been nearly 80 attacks in Afghanistan. The violence could derail the deal that calls for U.S. troops to withdraw over the next 14 months. This comes as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and top political leader Abdullah Abdullah both claimed that they won the presidential election at dual inauguration ceremonies today in Kabul, and members of the Taliban and the Afghan government were set to start direct negotiations on Tuesday. We speak with Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock, who recently won the George Polk Award for Military Reporting for his in-depth investigation called “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War.”

“Afghanistan Papers” Reveal How Presidents & Generals Misled the American Pu blic on War’s Progress

Democracy Now!

Mar 9, 2020

Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock has just won a George Polk Award for Military Reporting for his in-depth investigation called “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War.” He joins us to describe how, after getting a tip, he fought for three years to get the federal government to release a trove of confidential interviews it conducted with people directly involved in the nearly two-decade-long war. He ultimately obtained more than 2,000 documents that revealed how presidents, generals and diplomats across three administrations had intentionally misled the American public about the longest war in U.S. history.

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Recruited Spies to Infiltrate Progressive Groups with Project Veritas

Democracy Now!

Mar 9, 2020

Erik Prince, the founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, helped recruit former spies to infiltrate and gather intelligence about Democratic campaigns and labor organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers, according to an explosive report by The New York Times. The story exposes previously unreported details about the ties between Prince and Project Veritas, a right-wing group that often sets up sting operations targeting the media and journalists by recording covert videos. According to documents and interviews, one former spy recruited by Erik Prince helped run an operation to secretly tape leaders in the Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers in 2017. In another instance, in 2018, the same undercover operative who gathered information about the AFT infiltrated the congressional campaign of former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger, who was running for Congress representing Virginia as a Democrat. We are joined by The Intercept’s investigative reporter Matthew Cole, who first broke the story of Erik Prince’s ties to the Trump administration last year.

COVID-19 uncertainty: A virus-weakened global economy

FRANCE 24 English

Mar 9, 2020

It has been a dramatic 48 hours. The Italian government on Sunday announced that more than 15 million people in the industrial heartland of the country were being quarentined for a period of four weeks. It came as the deathtoll from the Corona Virus in Italy shot up to the highest level outside of Mainland China. The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte argues that these drastic measures are a bitter pill for the country’s economy in the short term but that this will spare the country longer-term economic damage.

Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment, Fully Revised and Updated

An indispensable roadmap for creating a successful investment program from Yale’s chief investment officer, David F. Swensen.

In the years since the now-classic Pioneering Portfolio Management was first published, the global investment landscape has changed dramatically — but the results of David Swensen’s investment strategy for the Yale University endowment have remained as impressive as ever. Year after year, Yale’s portfolio has trumped the marketplace by a wide margin, and, with over $20 billion added to the endowment under his twenty-three-year tenure, Swensen has contributed more to Yale’s finances than anyone ever has to any university in the country. What may have seemed like one among many success stories in the era before the Internet bubble burst emerges now as a completely unprecedented institutional investment achievement.

In this fully revised and updated edition, Swensen, author of the bestselling personal finance guide Unconventional Success, describes the investment process that underpins Yale’s endowment. He provides lucid and penetrating insight into the world of institutional funds management, illuminating topics ranging from asset-allocation structures to active fund management. Swensen employs an array of vivid real-world examples, many drawn from his own formidable experience, to address critical concepts such as handling risk, selecting advisors, and weathering market pitfalls.

Swensen offers clear and incisive advice, especially when describing a counterintuitive path. Conventional investing too often leads to buying high and selling low. Trust is more important than flash-in-the-pan success. Expertise, fortitude, and the long view produce positive results where gimmicks and trend following do not.

The original Pioneering Portfolio Management outlined a commonsense template for structuring a well-diversified equity-oriented portfolio. This new edition provides fund managers and students of the market an up-to-date guide for actively managed investment portfolios.

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