Friday, December 30, 2011

My favorite new song of 2011

If you haven't ever heard it, then this is my New year's gift to you.

Image: dream designs /

Dawes, "A Little Bit of Everything"

Happy New Year!

The Atlantic and The National Law Journal co-host NH primary event


I’m pleased to share an exciting addition to the program for The Atlantic and National Journal New Hampshire primary briefing.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum will join us to discuss the major economic policy issues framing the 2012 Presidential Election. We’ll also here from pollsters Joel Benenson and Mike Murphy, National Journal’s own Ron Brownstein and Ron Fournier, and WMUR’s James Pindell.

The Economy and The Electorate: A New Hampshire Primary Heartland Briefing

Saturday, January 7, 2012 from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM (EST)

Underwritten by Allstate

New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College

100 Saint Anselm Drive

Manchester, NH 03102

Visit the event website to reserve your place at this must-attend primary event:

Feel free to contact me directly with any inquiries you may have, and we look forward to seeing you in Manchester!

All best,

Eliza French

The Atlantic


Free Online Learning: MITx launches Monday



Why is MIT doing this?
MIT seeks through the development of MITx to improve education both on the MIT campus and around the world.

On campus, MITx will be coupled with an Institute-wide research initiative on online teaching and learning. The online learning tools that MITx develops will benefit the educational experience of residential students by supplementing and reinforcing the classroom and laboratory experiences.

Beyond the MIT campus, MITx will endeavor to break down barriers to education in two ways. First, it will offer the online teaching of MIT courses to people around the world and the opportunity for able learners to gain certification of mastery of MIT material. Second, it will make freely available to educational institutions everywhere the open-source software infrastructure on which MITx is based.

Since it launched OpenCourseWare (OCW) 10 years ago, MIT has been committed to using technology to improve and greatly widen access to education. The launch of MITx represents a next step forward in that effort.

Who is leading the development of MITx?
The initiative is led by MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif.

When will MITx go live?
MIT plans to launch an experimental prototype version of MITx in the spring 2012 timeframe. Once the open learning infrastructure is in stable form, MIT will also release the open-source software infrastructure and will establish ways for other universities, as well as interested individuals, to join MIT in improving and adding features to the technology.

Why is MIT announcing this now, before MITx has been built?
Many schools and faculty within MIT and other universities are interested in online education and exploring ways in which to offer their content online. MIT wants its community and the communities of other institutions to know that they can continue to look to MIT to bring innovation to online learning and teaching, as it has done with OCW. MIT also wants to make available an adaptable, free platform for any school to use for its own online initiatives. Furthermore, the time is right from a technology perspective, because within MIT we have already gained experience in online technologies through many courses that already include significant online components. These technologies include online tutors, online laboratories, crowd-sourced grading of programs, machine learning and automatic transcription.

How will this affect the MIT on-campus education?
MIT’s residential-based education is the heart of the MIT community, and an MIT degree holds special distinction. MITx will be coupled with an MIT-wide research initiative into online learning that will study ways in which students, whether on campus or part of a virtual community, learn most effectively. To the degree that MITx demonstrates highly effective online learning tools from which campus-based students might benefit, such as self-paced online exercises, those tools will become part of the experience of MIT students. These tools will enable campus faculty to automate some of the more repetitive and less creative tasks, such as grading, thereby liberating more time to devote to innovative ways of teaching the material and to additional contact time with resident students.

Is MIT signaling a lack of support for the traditional, residential model of education?
Not at all. MIT believes firmly in the residential model of education. MIT’s new initiative in online education is meant not only to improve the experience of traditional, residential MIT students by continuing to innovate with the latest pedagogical technologies, but also to lower the existing barriers between residential campuses and millions of learners around the world.

Will MIT students and online-only non-MIT learners use MITx in the same way?
No. MIT faculty and students will determine what use to make of the new platform for their on-campus classes: The platform may serve as a way for students to reinforce and explore what they are learning in the classroom and lab. We have observed that the same is true of OCW: MIT’s residential learners use OCW materials to augment their residential experience.

Will this platform offer MIT degrees?
No. MIT awards MIT degrees only to those admitted to MIT through a highly selective admissions process.

If credentials are awarded, will they be awarded by MIT?
As online learning and assessment evolve and improve, online learners who demonstrate mastery of subjects could earn a certificate of completion, but any such credential would not be issued under the name MIT. Rather, MIT plans to create a not-for-profit body within the Institute that will offer certification for online learners of MIT coursework. That body will carry a distinct name to avoid confusion.

Who can take courses on MITx? Will there be an admission process?
As with OCW, the teaching materials on MITx will be available to anyone in the world for free, and in general, there will not be an admission process. However, credentials will be granted only to students who earn them by demonstrating mastery of the material of a subject.

In MITx, what will be free and what will cost money?
All of the teaching on the platform will be free of charge. Those who have the ability and motivation to demonstrate mastery of content can receive a credential for a modest fee.

What will it cost to get a credential for a given course?
MIT is in the process of determining a fee structure for individual courses and groups of courses. The aim is to make credentialing highly affordable.

Will MIT remain committed to OpenCourseWare?
Yes. OCW will continue as before: It will make course materials from across the MIT curriculum available to the world for free. There will be no reduction in the level of what OCW offers.

How will MITx be financed?
MIT’s online initiative will be a not-for-profit activity consistent with MIT’s mission, but it is expected to generate positive net income from various revenue sources, including fees for certification from learners who demonstrate mastery of course material. MIT also anticipates substantial interest from foundations, companies and individuals positioned to support the endeavor. MIT will share the expected positive net income with faculty members who develop courses for the platform. Net income from the initiative after revenue sharing will benefit MIT and its mission.

OCW provides course material for nearly all MIT classes. Will MITx offer interactive online courses at that same scale?
No. MITx will begin by offering a portfolio of selected courses, which will grow over time. The selection of courses will depend on the interests of MIT faculty and online learners and will be determined on a course-by-course basis.

What resources will MIT make available to the faculty in support of MITx?
MIT will actively support faculty members in creating online courses.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This writer says "good riddance to 2011"

Image: Kittisak /

The Generation Gasp: The First 10 Columns

Daddy's Little Girl

What did I say?

Music to my ears

In your dreams

A body of art

Who's rude?

I'll drink to that

Patriot Games

The American way of death

Daddy, can you spare a dime?

Watch for more in 2012.

Castagnera on Terrorism Films

For some five years or so, I have been reviewing films for The History Place.

Given that the first decade of this century was focused upon the War on Terror, it should be no surprise that a disproportionate share of those 48 film reviews were of films dealing with terrorism.

Image: Idea go /

Charlie Wilson's War

The Hurt Locker and The Green Zone

The Kingdom

A Mighty Heart


Of Gods and Men



United 93

Vantage Point

World Trade Center

Castagnera on Risk Management

Why the Blog's name change for 2012? Simply... both my day job and this Blog have become more and more focused upon risk management issues. And I note that its readers --- 60,000 in its first 18 months --- exhibit great interest in the topic. As I prepare to teach an online course called "Counter-Terrorism Law" during the Spring 2012 semester, my interest and involvement in risk management will only increase.

For this morning... a retrospective on articles I wrote during the past 5 years on risk management for Today's Campus Magazine.

Image: digitalart /

The first decade of the 21st century with its War on Terror also led me to write a book on terrorism's impact on higher education:

And a teaching kit, built around a young-adult novel, about homegrown terrorism, past and present.

10 habits faculty should break when they join the administration

Image: photostock /

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Joe Biden wants a donation

Jim --

It's just a fact: Making a donation now before everyone starts paying attention next year is critically important.

Groups like the Karl Rove-linked "American Crossroads" didn't waste any time taking advantage of new fundraising rules. They're already planning to raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars to try to influence this race and many others.

It's the number one example of how this campaign will be nothing like 2008. If we're going to build the grassroots organization that can defeat them next fall, we can't wait for 2012 either. We gotta do it now.

Will you donate $5 or more today before the critical end-of-year deadline?

As someone who donated to this campaign in 2011, you can honestly say you were part of this campaign from the beginning.

It's a special group.

In 2007, before anyone thought Barack could pull it off -- the press, the political establishment -- a group of people had already donated or signed up to volunteer for Barack, giving him the momentum he needed to get through a long summer before the convention.

I know he still holds a place in his heart for early supporters like you.

But as one of this campaign's million-plus grassroots donors, you're also in the best position to do what those 2007 supporters did -- build the campaign early on, before 2012 is in full swing, when it really counts.

Donate $5 or more today:

Thanks for everything,


P.S. -- Right now, any donation you make automatically enters you for a chance to sit down for dinner with Barack and Michelle. You shouldn't pass that up.

Apocalypse now?


Despite talk about the end of time, I fully expect the world will survive 2012; but it will be a bumpy ride this year. Expect the U.S. economy and the Nation’s standing in the world to further weaken. Expect more protests, both at home and abroad. And expect us to have to endure another four years with Barack Obama as President.

Resource for recruiting minority faculty and staff

Image: photostock /

MFAD is the number one resource in recruiting minority candidates for faculty, administrative and staff positions.

Locking in your MFAD 2011 pricing has been extended to January 20th!

You still have a chance to secure the MFAD rate under our current pricing
($500 unlimited postings for one year), by clicking HERE.

Starting January 21, 2012, MFAD will have a new pricing structure with two feasible options:

MFAD Unlimited ($1,200): Unlimited postings per institution for one year. No limit on number of positions posted per month AND immediate listings in the exclusive "Hot Jobs" section (which is sent out to thousands as soon as you send it to us!)

MFAD Limited ($600): 6-month postings (limit of 2 postings per month)

Don't miss this special offer!

"Assertiveness Training Camp" available

Image: graur codrin /

Too often, assertive behaviors can feel very uncomfortable at first. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or be seen as difficult or causing problems. On the flip side, some people get overly aggressive and angry and then say they were just being “assertive.” How can you tell the difference between setting—and keeping—a healthy boundary and real anger? And how can asserting yourself ever become a comfortable behavior?

At Assertiveness Training Camp, you’ll begin with why you—and many others like you—have trouble sticking up for yourself. Then, you’ll focus on the work of learning the tools and exercises that will give you courage when the time comes for you to take a stand—without being overly harsh or damaging your own reputation.

Just a small sample of what you’ll discover at Assertiveness Training Camp:

5 Reasons Why People Aren’t Assertive—Why don’t people simply stand up for themselves—and how are you responsible for holding yourself back? How to counteract self-defeating behaviors.
3 Patterns of Distorted Thinking—If we can’t trust our own perceptions, what can we trust? How to get past our own blinders and get a better, truer read on any situation.
9 Ways to Express a Positive “No”—Can you turn someone down without it reflecting badly on you or coming off as a jerk?
4-Step Scripts for Assertive Conversations—Build a positive, confidence-boosting repertoire of responses to help you in any situation.
Anger vs. Aggression: 5 Key Differences—How to tell when you’ve crossed that line—and how to keep yourself from reacting out of anger and possibly doing the wrong thing as a result.
Practice Your New Found Assertiveness Skills—Role play and practice applying your new knowledge and skills with the trainer and your camp colleagues, so you’ll walk out of class prepared!

Learn how to be more self-aware—and how to believe in yourself that you can handle any situation, no matter how tense, how awkward, or how unusual. Learn how to channel anger and aggression into more constructive, powerful practices—without lashing out at those around you and damaging your own reputation. Learn how to use tools that can help you size up any situation quickly and accurately—so you can plan a better response.

Make better, more assertive choices every day—that lead to better actions and better results. Sign up for Assertiveness Training Camp today for assertiveness training and confidence building that work in the real world—and start going after what you really want in life.

University of Alaska seeks instructor in Emergency Management

Term Instructor of Emergency Management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
Cameron Carlson - December 27, 2011 21:59
The University of Alaska Fairbanks invites applications for a non-tenure track term position at the Instructor rank in Emergency Management to begin Fall of 2012. Candidates are expected to have a Master's degree and a minimum of five years experience as a first responder or equivalent type position. It is required that candidates have a portfolio of current relevant professional work experience in Emergency Management/ Administration and /or Homeland Security. Primary duties are to teach undergraduate courses during the academic year in emergency management and homeland security using traditional and online delivery methods. The successful candidate is also expected to update and develop curriculum as needed, recruit students, supervise internships, work closely with other departments , provide university service and engage in continuing professional development. Excellent communication and computer skills are required. Classroom experience teaching courses in a bachelors/associates program is preferred, but experience in the development and delivery of professional training and instruction will be accepted in lieu of academic teaching experience.

School of Management website:

BEM & HS website:

UAKjobs ling to BEM Instructor position:

Sloan Consortium previews 2012 events

Thank you for a great year!

The Sloan Consortium would like to wish everyone a safe holiday season and a Happy New Year. We look forward to providing improved services and new benefits to our community in 2012.

2011 Highlights

In case you missed them, here are some highlights of 2011.

The Quality Scorecard for the Administration of Online Programs is a convenient, efficient way to measure and build quality programs.

The 9th Annual Survey of Online Learning: Going the Distance - Online Education in the United States, 2011 reveals that the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6 million. Now nearly one-third of all students in higher education are taking at least one online course.

The Sloan-C Institute added three new specializations to the Sloan-C Certificate Program. Participants can now choose to specialize in accessibility, mobile learning, and social media. Learn more about the program here.

Four issues of the Journal of Asynchronous Learning (JALN) were published and focused on blended learning, for-profit institutions, military leadership, and the impact of learning technology.

The 17th Annual Sloan Consortium International Conference on Online Learning experienced a record breaking attendance of 1,488 onsite and 600 virtual attendees. View the photo gallery.

Webinars were made free to all members. Take a look at the 2012 schedule.

Did your organization join Sloan-C in 2011? Remember to take advantage of the many free resources available to members. Check here to see if your organization is a member and follow the directions on the page on how to set up or affiliate an account with your organization.
Coming in 2012

The New Year brings new and exciting changes to the Sloan Consortium.

The Sloan-C Member Catalog of Online Programs
Sloan-C regionally accredited institutions are invited to list their online programs. The programs will also be visible in the Catalog which visitors may search by discipline, degree level, and institution.

The 2012 Sloan-C Online Education Research Symposium Series - Free
Sloan-C Online announces the 2012 Research Symposia, an online series of 4 virtual, interactive presentations on research of critical importance to educators engaged in advancing online and blended education. The symposia will familiarize participants with the current research in each of 4 areas via multiple perspectives and emerging trends. Participants can pursue particular aspects of the topics via focused discussions and questions to the presenters. Starts in January of 2012!

New workshop topics in the 2012 workshop schedule. The Sloan-C Institute Team has been hard at work scheduling and gathering experts from around the country to create an exciting roster of workshops. The workshop schedule can now be sorted by date, title, level, and track.

Join us at one of our face-to face events:

9th Annual Sloan-C Blended Learning Conference and Workshop: Perfecting the Blend
April 23-24, 2012
Hyatt Regency Milwaukee - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Early bird registration open!

5th Annual International Symposium for Emerging Technologies for Online Learning
July 25-27, 2012
The Venetian | Palazzo Resort - Las Vegas, Nevada
Call for presentations open until March 5, 2012.

18th Annual Sloan Consortium International Conference on Online Learning
October 10-12, 2012
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort
Save the date!

National Council of US-Arab Relations seeks year-end contributions

December 2011

Dear National Council Friend and Supporter:

The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, established in 1983, is conducting its End of the Year Fundraising Campaign. The goal is to make it possible for the National Council to continue pursuing its educational mission and contributing to the national dialogue on America's relations with the Arab world, and vice versa. I invite you to support the Council's educational programs and activities by making a tax-deductible* contribution to this campaign. Your gift will help enable the Council to build as many new bridges, and strengthen as many existing ones, as possible. To this end, it will enhance the Council's ability to expand its signature educational programs and activities - specifically the:
Model Arab League/Arab-U.S. Relations Youth Leadership Development Program for University and High School Students;
Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies Program for University Faculty and Armed Services Officers;
Student Arabic Language and Study Abroad Programs;
U.S.-Arab Relations Year-Round and Summer University Student Internship Programs;
Congressional and Public Affairs Briefings; and the
Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference.
In order for the National Council to continue making a difference in American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world and Arab-U.S. relations, as well as the need to strengthen and expand the innumerable positive and mutual benefits of both, your support is especially needed at this time.

In the eyes of America's foremost charity accrediting agencies, the National Council's transparency, management, and overall fiscal responsibility for administering its resources in the most effective manner possible has attracted coveted national attention. Indeed, the continuing efforts of the Council's board, management, and staff to explore ways to become ever more effective and efficient stewards of contributions received from people like you have not been without positive effect. They have made it possible in the past three years for the Council to be awarded a 4 out of 4 star rating by Charity Navigator, America's premier charity evaluator, for the Council's efficient management and growth of its finances.

Please make your tax-deductible contribution online by clicking here or on the blue button to the left or below. The link will lead you to the National Council's secure donation website. Alternatively, you may mail a contribution to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, 1730 M Street, NW, Suite 503, Washington, DC 20036.

Thank you for your time, generosity, and investment in what the National Council seeks to accomplish.


Dr. John Duke Anthony
President & CEO

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In Pennsylvania: The Dems' Germandered "Silver Lining"

Dear Friend,

Last week, the Republicans in Harrisburg sent to Governor Corbett a newly drawn congressional district map that he has now signed into law. As you can see for yourself, the lines of the district wind all over the state and split up communities. The 7th has even been recognized as one of the five most gerrymandered districts in the nation.

But there's a silver lining to these districts. Despite Republicans' best efforts to gerrymander Pennsylvania into a red state, it just isn't one. No matter how ridiculous the shapes are that they draw, the Republican incumbents are not as safe as they think they are.

Five districts. Five of the new congressional districts that were drawn for Republican incumbents were won by President Obama in 2008. And in 2006 Senator Casey won districts 3,9,11, and 18. These are all winnable districts for us in 2012 and beyond.

Will you donate just $5, one for each of the districts, today to win those districts for Democrats?

In 2012, those same 2008 voters will be back at the voting booths, and we have a real chance to show the Republicans that they can't trick their way to victory.

This is exactly what happened to them a decade ago. They gerrymandered the state to pieces, but because we were able to recruit the better candidates, mount more aggressive campaigns, and fight for the people of Pennsylvania, Democrats won districts that were drawn for Republicans. And we can do that again if you donate today.

The new 6th, 7th, 8th, 15th, and 16th districts all voted for President Obama in 2008. Those and more are winnable for Democrats in 2012 and beyond - but only with your help. Contribute $5 today by clicking here so we can vote out these Republicans who were more interested in protecting their seats than representing Pennsylvanians.
Thank you,

Kevin Washo
Executive Director

Council on Undergraduate Research convenes in DC in February

CUR Dialogues

February 23-25, 2012
Hamilton Crowne Plaza
Washington, D.C.

CUR Dialogues is designed to bring faculty and administrators to Washington, D.C. to interact with federal agency program officers and other grant funders.

Workshops and Plenary Sessions will:
tell participants about grant opportunities in research and education, both new and ongoing;
assist faculty learn how to find new funding opportunities;
assist faculty develop grant proposal writing skills.
Participants will:
meet in small groups and talk with program officers and grants management officers -- NSF, NIH, NEH, NEA, Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Ed, and more;
take the opportunity to communicate directly with program officers and grants administrators concerning grant requirements and funders’ priorities;
share ideas with colleagues.
In addition, CUR Dialogues provides a setting for funders to learn of the interests, needs, and concerns of researchers and educators relative to funding opportunities. CUR Dialogues has spawned many ideas for grant programs, and have helped agencies to refine their program guidelines.

Who should attend: Faculty at all career stages; undergraduate research directors; grants administrators; development officers.

For more information visit the CUR Dialogues information page.

Council on Undergraduate Research
734 15th St, NW, Suite 550
Washington, DC 20005
(202)783-4811 fax

War as Big Business

Image: Tom Curtis /

Review of "Syriana" --- a case on point
By Jim Castagnera
Special to The History Place

Daniel Yergin's 1992 best-seller The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power contains a photograph of a triumphant-looking man in a well-tailored, western-style suit, hoisted by his admirers above a large, elated crowd. The caption reads, "Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized British Petroleum in 1951, setting off the first postwar oil crisis and unleashing political forces that he could not control." By the time the crisis played itself out, Yergin tells us, the Shah of Iran paid BP's nationalized subsidiary "about $90 million up front for the 60 percent rights that the company was said to be giving up," while "Mossadegh was put on trial by the reinstated Shah -- and spent three years in prison."

In Syriana, energy-analyst Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon) likens the Arab royal, who hires Woodman's consulting firm, to Mossadegh, a sure signal from Director Stephen Gaghan (Traffic) that his Prince Nasir is in for big trouble. Nasir, heir-apparent to his ailing emir-father, has cut a deal with the Chinese to buy the emirate's oil, acing out American energy-giant Connex. From the moment he signs with the Peoples Republic, Nasir (Alexander Siddig) is a marked man.

The CIA dispatches veteran operative Bob Barnes (George Clooney, whose Section Eight production company co-produced the film) to dispose of Nasir, so that Connex can climb back into the saddle. Clooney's character is very loosely based on the real-life CIA agent and author Bob Baer, who published his memoir See No Evil in 2002. Syriana is likewise (very) loosely-based on Baer's varied experiences -- particularly leading an alleged attempt on the life of Saddam Hussein -- during a lengthy career that carried him all over the Middle East.

If Director Gaghan's quick-cut, documentary-like style of film-making turned you out of Traffic (2000), you may have the same trouble keeping your head in the fast-paced, globe-hopping Syriana story. But, just as "nothing concentrates the mind better than knowing that one will be hanged in the morning," nothing could bring the viewer's attention back into focus better than the film's mid-stream torture scene. Barnes travels to Beirut, where he hires an assassin named Mussawi to kill Prince Nasir when he visits the city. "Drug him, put him in a car, and drive a truck into him at 50 miles an hour," Barnes casually instructs his killer. When the "wet-work" specialist turns on Barnes and takes him captive, you get a graphic depiction of what it might be like to have your fingernails removed, one at a time. If this doesn't pull you back into the film, nothing will.

From then on, this 126-minute whirligig of a movie spins interconnected plots around and through one another. Washington lawyer Bennett Holiday (Jeffrey Wright) is charged by his firm's puppeteer managing-partner (Christopher Plummer) with ferreting out any skeletons in client Connex's closet that might trip up its merger with a smaller firm holding some prime Mid-East drilling rights. The Justice Department wants the wedding consummated in the national interest, but demands the blood of one or two sacrificial lambs -- be they oil company execs or senior partners from Holiday's own firm -- to satiate the criminal justice system. Everybody knows the smaller Killen Corp could never have gotten its oil concessions without greasing a few Arab palms in violation of U.S. law. The deal must be cleansed by a (metaphorically-speaking) blood sacrifice; somebody has to do some hard time.

This political passion-play inevitably and inexorably converges with a second, very real blood sacrifice, that of Prince Nasir (no metaphors in the Middle East, it seems). Is the meeting of Nasir's convoy with a herd of Bedoin goats and sheep on the road where the prince is targeted for assassination symbolic or coincidental?

Befitting the product of a master film-maker, working with a first-rate cast, Syriana comes to its climax with no simple twists of fate. Four distinct story lines -- the Connex/Killen merger; the relentless CIA effort to erase the reform-bent Nasir from America's Middle Eastern equation; Agent Bob Barnes's eleventh-hour effort at redemption; and, the slender compelling thread of the transformation of two Arab oilfield workers into suicide bombers -- converge to make Syriana a thought-provoking thriller of a film.

Can an employer discriminate against an obese applicant or employee?

Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /

My big fat bias complaint

I SAT IN bed on a recent Sunday, sipping my coffee while I read the morning paper. Then I spotted the headline, and my morning calm was shattered:

"An unrivaled hunger? She's 5-foot-5, 99 pounds. Her appetite puts 'voracious' to shame." This petite eating machine can strip 134 buffalo wings in 12 minutes. I glanced at my protruding middle-aged midriff and shouted, "Unfair!"

Since the federal 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed, followed by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in '67, the long arm of the law has wielded a shield to protect minorities, foreigners, women, Branch Davidians and geezers from disparate treatment. As an employment lawyer and citizen, I say, "Good!"

But as one of the majority of Americans for whom the Battle of the Bulge has nothing to do with World War II, I say what about us? That some truly huge guys can be in danger of being humiliated by a 99-pound chick is symbolic of the sad state of affairs for all us chubbies.

I thought the Americans with Disabilities Act would stretch the law's long arm around our bulging bellies. But a dozen years and uncounted lawsuits later, even morbid obesity can come out on the light side of a legal action. (Here's what one federal judge said just last month in the case of a fat foreman fired by Asplundh Tree Experts: "Except in special cases where the obesity relates to a physiological disorder, it is not a 'physical impairment' . . ."

That "physiological disorder" bit makes my stomach rumble. What of the rest of us for whom dieting causes severe mental distress? Except for a cholesterol issue handled by a little pink pill, I have no "physiological disorder." Neither do my many large-sized friends, relatives, co-workers and acquaintances.

So we remain the unprotected victims of invidious discrimination. On Page 2 of my Sunday paper, I learned that the mayor of New York can get away with saying of a deceased actress, "Big gal . . . she ate everything but the drapes." Mayor Bloomberg even blasphemed the late, great Doc Atkins, suggesting that the messiah of the meat diet was himself a fatty.

The, thankfully, I reached the travel section - and an ad for a new Caribbean resort catering to a "larger" clientele.

Big deck chairs, big doorways, big portions. Utopia.

Let that little gal gobble her wings. Let the law languish. Let Mike Bloomberg laugh. I'll just get on the Internet and make my reservation.


Human Rights Watch slams Obama for agreeing to sign defense bill containing detainee provisions

Image: Idea go /

(Washington, DC) – US President Barack Obama’s apparent decision to not veto a defense spending bill that codifies indefinite detention without trial into US law and expands the military’s role in holding terrorism suspects does enormous damage to the rule of law both in the US and abroad, Human Rights Watch said today. The Obama administration had threatened to veto the bill, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), over detainee provisions, but on December 14, 2011, it issued a statement indicating the president would likely sign the legislation.

Gigantic Indian market may soon be opened to foreign higher-ed providers

Image: Arvind Balaraman /

Factoring in the suggestions of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, the Union Human Resource Development ministry will bring to Cabinet an amended version of the Foreign Universities Bill that will help facilitate entry of reputed foreign varsities to India and at the same time address issues of regional disparity and make space for certificate and diploma courses, besides the degree earning ones.

When even tenure isn't enough to get you by

Image: renjith krishnan /

This recently tenured professor's complaints about cash shortages reminded me of my days --- now nearly 20 years ago --- with a major Philadelphia law firm. I recall a new young partner complaining to me, "It felt good for a day or two. Then I realized I was responsible for my own health insurance cost as a partner; I had to take a loan to buy my equity interest; and I still have to bill 2000 next year." Ah, well, I'll bet he's being billed out at $500 an hour now and has the pension fund I can only wish for.

As for the tenured-but-struggling prof, I still say he has the last good job in America:

Another chance to win dinner with Michelle and Barack

Jim --

I just saw the seating chart for Dinner with Barack and Michelle, and I thought you should see it, too.

The President and First Lady are right here. Where do you want to sit?

Take a look, then donate $5 or whatever you can to be automatically entered for a chance to win.

I've put a lot of dinners together for the President and Mrs. Obama.

Sometimes they've been for foreign dignitaries and heads of state. Sometimes they've included governors, artists, and musicians. The seating can get pretty complicated, but I have to say, this one was easy.

One table, six guests, and the President and First Lady.

So really, my job's done. The only thing that's missing is who the guests will be.

Click here to give $5 or whatever you can and be automatically entered for a chance for you and a guest to have dinner with the President and First Lady:

I'd love for you to be there.



Julianna Smoot
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America

Unemployed? Here's a suggested New Year's resolution from Consultant Leonard Deane

Image: Idea go /

Leonard A. Deane Jr.- Strategic Communications has sent you a message.
Date: 12/27/2011
Subject: Resolve To Get a Job in 2012
Resolve To Get a Job in 2012

I, ____________________ resolve to:

□ Reexamine every job-hunting method there is and reconsider whether there is a better way that you could be going about this.

□ Complete the Flower Exercise in “What Color Is Your Parachute?.”

□ Take a course to upgrade my skills.

□ Make five (5) cold calls (knock on doors) per week.

□ Make five (5) new connections each week.

□ Dress well for networking, informational interviews and job interviews.

□ Practice mock interview to increase my self confidence.

□ Respond to all requirements in a job positing, including cover letter and resume.

□ Respond to jobs for which I am qualified.

□ Record my job search, including all the contacts I have made and steps taken.

□ Record the communications between myself and an employer after the interview.

□ Choose not to take rejection or “no” personally.

□ Send thank-you letter to the employer who did not hire me.

□ Get daily personal support to stay positive during my job search.

□ Take care of me and family, maintain social and fitness activities.

□ Volunteer to focus on the needs of others and learn new skills.

□ Practice gratitude from the heart and be thankful.

□ Motivate myself by attending Employment Support Groups or workshops.

□ Keep a journal of successes.

□ On a weekly basis find something that is within your power to change.

□ Get out of the house one day a week and make contact with potential employers, networking opportunities, friends and neighbors.

□ Pray and ask for God’s guidance

Len Deane Jr. - Class of 1963
Facilitate Employment Support Group
Calvary Church, 2600 Shipley Road, Wilmington DE 19870

Monday, December 26, 2011

How did DHS do in 2011? The Secretary's Report:

Image: vudhikrai /

Secretary Napolitano Highlights DHS' Progress in 2011
Release Date: December 22, 2011
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010
WASHINGTON—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday toured operations and received briefings at DHS facilities in the National Capital Region. The Secretary toured Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection operations at Washington Dulles International Airport, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center in Virginia, the Secret Service’s James J. Rowley Training Center in Beltsville, Md. and the FEMA IMAT and the Fairfax USAR team in Herndon, Va. - highlighting the major steps the Department has taken this year to enhance America's capabilities to guard against terrorism; secure the nation's borders; engage in smart enforcement of our immigration laws; safeguard and secure cyberspace; prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters; and to mature and strengthen the homeland security enterprise.
“This year, as we observed the 10th anniversary of the attacks that gave rise to our department, we continued to strengthen the safety, security, and resilience of our nation,” said Secretary Napolitano. “As we move into 2012, we will continue to work together with our federal, state, local, tribal and private sector partners to address new and emerging challenges while maturing and strengthening the homeland security enterprise.”
To prevent terrorism and enhance security, DHS continued to collaborate with our international partners, forging agreements focused on strengthening aviation security; facilitating information-sharing; and securing the global supply chain. The Department also began new risk-based security measures through prescreening of passengers; deployment of new technologies; and training of airport security and law enforcement personnel to better detect behaviors associated with terrorism. In addition, the Department continued to enhance and streamline its vetting and screening capabilities, strengthen the national network of fusion centers, and support state and local partners through training, technical assistance and grant funding. The Department also continued expansions of the “If You See Something, Say SomethingTM" public awareness campaign through partnerships with sports teams and leagues, transportation agencies, private sector partners, states, municipalities, and colleges and universities.
To secure and manage our borders, DHS has continued to deploy historic levels of personnel, technology, and resources to our borders to reduce the flow of illicit drugs, cash, and weapons; expedite legal trade and travel through trusted traveler and trader initiatives; and, as part of the Beyond the Border Action Plan, collaborated with our Canadian partners to strengthen security while advancing economic competitiveness. Border Patrol apprehensions—a key indicator of illegal immigration—have decreased 53 percent in the last three years and are less than 20 percent of what they were at their peak. In the maritime domain, the United States Coast Guard secures our borders through a layered security system that provides mobile surveillance coverage, engages smugglers at the earliest point possible, and addresses potential threats before they can cause harm to the United States.
To enforce and administer our immigration laws, DHS removed more criminal aliens from the country than any year in the agency’s history, highlighting DHS’ commitment to focusing on threats to public safety, repeat immigration law violators, recent border entrants, and immigration fugitives while continuing to strengthen oversight of the nation’s immigration detention system and facilitate legal immigration. In 2011, USCIS held more than 6,000 naturalization ceremonies for approximately 692,000 lawful permanent residents who became U.S. citizens, including more than 10,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces and launched a series of initiatives to spur economic competiveness by attracting foreign entrepreneurial talent who can create jobs, form startup companies, and invest capital in areas of high unemployment. DHS also launched E-Verify Self-Check, an online service that allows individuals to check their employment eligibility status before formally seeking employment.
To safeguard and secure cyberspace, DHS responded to over 100,000 incident reports and released more than 5,000 cybersecurity alerts and information products for federal, state, local, international and private sector partners; worked to combat electronic crimes such as identity theft, network intrusions and a range of financial crimes; launched law enforcement operations targeting those who prey on children online; announced new Stop.Think.Connect.TM partnerships with DARE America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and YMCA; and released the Blueprint for a Secure Cyber Future: The Cybersecurity Strategy for the Homeland Security Enterprise, which outlines a coordinated effort for cybersecurity across the homeland security community.
To ensure resilience to disasters, DHS trained thousands of local, state and tribal responders; released the country’s first-ever National Preparedness Goal, which identifies the core capabilities necessary to achieve preparedness; and awarded more than $2.1 billion in federal preparedness grants to assist states, urban areas, tribal and territorial governments, non-profit agencies, and the private sector in strengthening our nation's ability to prevent, protect, respond to, recover from, and mitigate terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. In 2011, FEMA supported 96 major disaster declarations, 29 emergency declarations, and 116 fire management assistance declarations, including the response to Hurricane Irene, fires in the Southwest, severe flooding in North Dakota, and devastating tornadoes that hit the Midwest and South, including Joplin, Mo.
To mature and strengthen the homeland security enterprise, DHS met its veterans hiring goal of 50,000 employees with veterans comprising 25 percent of the Department’s civilian workforce in addition to nearly 50,000 active and reserve members of the U.S. Coast Guard. In recognition of DHS’ efforts to cut costs and reinvest in mission critical operations, the Department’s Efficiency Review was highlighted as a model effort for agencies across the Federal government. The Department also received a qualified opinion on its balance sheet for FY 2011 which is a pivotal step in DHS’ financial management, highlighting efforts to increase transparency and accountability, and to accurately account for the Department’s resources.
Additionally, this past year, DHS conducted unprecedented outreach to state, local, tribal and private sector partners, in an effort to engage communities across the country in DHS core missions. This outreach focused on information sharing, promoting civil rights and civil liberties, increasing access to DHS programs, and strengthening the homeland security enterprise.
For more information regarding DHS’ progress in 2011, click here.

Are the right people representing higher ed in loan negotiations with the DOE?

Image: creativedoxfoto /

In October, the DOE announced its intentions:


34 CFR Chapter VI

Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, Negotiator Nominations and
Schedule of Committee Meetings--Student Loan Programs

AGENCY: Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of establishment of negotiated rulemaking committee.


SUMMARY: We announce our intention to establish a negotiated rulemaking
committee to prepare proposed regulations governing the student loan
programs authorized under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965,
as amended (HEA). The committee will include representatives of
organizations or groups with interests that are significantly affected
by the topics proposed for negotiation. We request nominations for
individual negotiators who represent key stakeholder constituencies for
the issues to be negotiated to serve on the committee and we set a
schedule for committee meetings.

DATES: We must receive your nominations for negotiators to serve on the
committee on or before November 28, 2011. The dates, times, and
locations of the committee meetings are set out in the Schedule for
Negotiations section under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION, below.


Now Doug Lederman of Inside Higher Ed is asking if there is a "Mismatch on Loan Negotiations?"

Chronicle commentator posits a perfect storm in undergraduate education

Image: Suvro Datta /

"Perfect Storm" is an overworked cliche that has proliferated ever since Sebastian Junger's best-selling book and the subsequent movie. Still I must confess that I used the same metaphor in 2010 to describe what is befalling the for-profit higher education sector:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Image: Charisma /

Yeh, okay... the picture is crass. But it caught your attention, right?

So... Merry Christmas...Happy Hanukkah... or whichever other holidays you observe at this time of year... to all my Twitter Followers, LinkedIn Contacts, and Facebook Friends.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Education: The 21st Century Civil Right, Part 1 (Retrospective on the 2008 Election)

Image: David Castillo Dominici /

Education — Civil Rights of the 21st Century

By James Castagnera

From John McCain’s acceptance speech, the line that stuck out for me was, “Education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century.”

He went on to explain that for him that meant offering parents and students a choice among public, private and charter schools. That choice, of course, only has meaning if parents and students have a variety of schools from which to choose and the financial ability to buy into their schools of choice. More broadly, while the GOP presidential candidate is right about education’s central significance in the new century, his simplistic solution hardly scratches the surface.

In many major cities, high school graduation rates hover around 50%. In a few they dip below the .500 mark. This dismal fact ensures the perpetuation of what Karl Marx called the lumpenproletariat, which is to say, the ragged or rabble lower class. And this, in its turn, ensures perpetuation of the drug wars, gang wars and random killings that characterize our inner cities.

Meanwhile out in the land of suburban sprawl, teen obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, and the random shootings that periodically plague our schools all suggest that affluence alone does not ensure successful students. Taken in this context, the issue of education expands to include family issues, such as divorce rates.

Labor policy, likewise, must be included in the mix. One of the great ironies of our new century is that, while millionaire professional athletes have strong labor unions, workers on the bottom rungs of our economy are often as exploited as their 19th century counterparts. Labor organizations, such as the Service Employees International Union, have a hard time organizing these folks, given the lopsided way in which our National Labor Relations Act is interpreted by the federal courts and bureaucrats. Union prevention and union busting are only another cost of doing business for many major corporations, which also outsource what were once the better-paying positions to Asian and Latin American sweatshops.

Immigration policy also must be addressed in any comprehensive approach to American education. The Supreme Court has said that the children of illegal aliens are entitled to attend public schools. The law remains unsettled as to whether or not such students are also entitled to attend public colleges and universities and, if so, whether they are also entitled to in-state residents’ tuition breaks.

More broadly, are immigrants filling jobs that Americans don’t want to do? Or are Americans declining those jobs because of the low wages, lack of benefits, and miserable working conditions? The use of immigrant labor, legal and illegal, at the bottom of the economic barrel perpetuates the conditions that make these jobs unattractive to anyone but immigrant and migrant workers.

Last but not least is the rising cost of a college education. Too many of our young people are graduating with “mortgages” on their diplomas. Inefficiencies plague the higher education industry. Despite being the only major sector of the economy that can call on its past customers —- its alumni—to continue supporting its operations, and despite substantial gifts and grants from donors and foundations, higher education’s tuition rates continue to outpace inflation significantly. Thus, the proliferation of large student-loan debts.

Yes, Sen. McCain (and Sen. Obama), “Education IS the civil rights issue of the 2ist century.” And it is a complex issue, entangled with equally complex and challenging issues of family, labor, and immigration policy.

Education: The 21st Century Civil Right, Part 2

Image: David Castillo Dominici /

The Generation Gasp
by Jim and Claire Castagnera
Column #11
Daddy, Can You Spare a Dime?
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, you’re probably aware that student loan debt is at an all-time high – somewhere around 865 billion dollars, last time I checked. You know what else is at an all-time high? College graduates moving back in with their parents.
This is no coincidence.
A quick poll of my fellow graduates shows that many of us are faced with only two choices: move back in with the parents until that debt has shrunk to a manageable size (or death, whichever comes first), or living in squalor while working night shifts at Denny’s until that debt has shrunk to a manageable size – or death, whichever comes first. Neither are particularly appealing choices, but which do you suppose you would choose?
If you’ve read this column before you may have ascertained that I myself still live with my parents, and believe me, I’m not complaining. I’m grateful for the extra year or two to save money and work overtime at those coveted, yet unpaid, internships that are so important to a resume in today’s bleak job market. But the other day as I sat on my childhood bed, patting myself on the back for being so fiscally responsible, I came across an article maligning the state of the economy – and my part in its collapse.
Apparently by moving back home, I’ve been “depriving” the economy. Not only that, but I’m depriving a potential landlord, local businesses, and probably Ikea and Williams Sonoma. Shame on me, and shame on all of my friends! Instead of buying new crockery and a bedroom set, we’re struggling to find some footing in the economic climate our elders set us up with.
Yeah, I take full responsibility for that.
Tens of millions of American students are graduating with “mortgages” on their diplomas. The average debt burden is a bit above $25,000. That’s the average. Too many students are entering the job-less market with six-figure obligations to Sallie Mae and the other big players in the student loan game.
I say “game” because, far too often, universities --- and in particular the for-profit players who have entered the industry in the last couple of decades --- are luring “customers” into programs they will never complete and for which no careers will be waiting at the other end of the road. The loan default rate for the for-profit schools is dismal, indeed, while many of them would go bankrupt overnight, were it not for the federal-loan dollars they garner. (As someone recently said, they aren’t “for-profit,” they’re “for subsidy.”)
This situation would be sufficiently shameful, if it only impacted our college kids and recent grads. But I predict more dire effects from the student-loan bubble, which is predicted to top the $1 trillion mark by year’s end. We endured the savings-and-loan debacle in the early 1990s. Then came the dot-com meltdown in the early 2000s. Next, and most severe, was the sub-prime mortgage/derivatives disaster from which our economy is still staggering. Wall Street traders (or should I say “traitors”?) have pillaged pirates’ fortunes in successive financial scams for which we hapless middle-class taxpayers have shouldered --- and which the younger generation will shoulder for decades to come--- the expense.
Meanwhile, “the millions in salaries and bonuses going to executives at for-profit college companies came under scrutiny Monday as the ranking Democrat on a House of Representatives oversight committee issued a demand to the chief executives of 13 higher-education companies to provide documents on pay details so the committee can ‘investigate how the structure of your executive-compensation packages affects the performance of students educated with taxpayer funds.’" (Chronicle of Higher Education) Yes, the CEOs of the for-profit colleges across the country are gainfully employed, even if many of their students and alums are not.
My personal opinion: every high school kid with the brains to complete college should be able to attend… go just as far as her wits and ambitions will carry her (doctor, lawyer, Indian chief)… and graduate debt-free.
That’s not just the right thing to do for our younger generation. It’s the smart thing for Uncle Sam to do, if he wants good citizens and productive contributors for 21st century America.

Sex for Series Tickets Not Prostitution, Says PA Superior Court, Sounding a Note of Sanity

Image: photostock /

The “it’s not illegal to be a slut” defense worked, according to Susan Finkelstein’s lawyer.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court on Tuesday overturned the attempted prostitution conviction against Finkelstein, the Philadelphia woman accused of trying to trade sex for Phillies tickets in Bensalem during the 2009 World Series.


Do you follow the Department of Homeland Security, as I do? Then, here's your chance to update your subscriptions:

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Date: Dec, Fri 23 2011 12:30 -0500 (EST)
Subject: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Leadership Update
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Forum on Education Abroad: "Forum News"

Dear Colleagues,

The Forum on Education Abroad has converted to a new, more user-friendly format for the Forum News. This newer format is easier to read, should not be recognized as spam by email filters, and allows subscribers to control subscription settings.

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Thank you,
The Forum on Education Abroad

National Research Community Forum in New Orleans in Mid-January

MAKE THIS YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION!!! REGISTER & ATTEND the OHRP National Research Community Forum (RCF) in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 13, 2012 entitled, "Protecting Human Research Subjects: Best Practices in the Big Easy," sponsored by Ochsner Medical Center at the Westin Canal Place. The multifaceted agenda provides a Keynote Address, three Plenary Sessions, and ten Breakout Sessions: 1) Basic HSP I: Overview of 45 CFR 46; 2) Legal Case Law and Human Subject Protection; 3) When Is It Research? 4) FDA Mechanisms for Use and Approval of Investigational Products; 5) Cognitively Impaired Subjects; 6) Basic HSP II: Flexibility in the Regulations; 7) Biorepositories: How They Work and Issues in Maintaining Them for Researchers Who Want Local Repositories; 8) Conflict of Interest Issues in Research; 9) Science and Ethics of Nursing: Qualitative Research; and 10) Preparing for a Natural Disaster: IRB Operations and Investigator Preparations. For additional information see flyer, web based brochure, program schedule, and online registration at:

Fan's case against Kobe Bryant can go forward, says Sixth Circuit

Image: jscreationzs /


BETTY GEESLIN, As Personal Representative of the Estate of Bill Geeslin, Deceased,
KOBE BRYANT, Defendant-Appellee.

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis
Before: MARTIN, GUY, and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM. This is a diversity case in which the plaintiff, Bill Geeslin,
brought Tennessee state law tort claims of assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against professional basketball player Kobe Bryant. Finding no evidence of the requisite intent for the assault claim; that Geeslin consented to contact between the parties by virtue of his courtside seat at the game; and that the defendant’s conduct did not support a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the district court entered summary judgment for Bryant. We affirm in part and reverse in part.
2 Geeslin and a friend attended a professional basketball game at the FedEx Forum in
Memphis, Tennessee on November 14, 2005. The Memphis Grizzlies were playing the Los Angeles Lakers, the team of basketball star Kobe Bryant. Geeslin had received skybox tickets to the game from a casino. Once Geeslin and his friend arrived at the skybox, their host offered them courtside tickets. Geeslin and his friend then moved down to folding chairs on the floor, located just to the side of one of the baskets in the front row.
While Geeslin and his friend were seated in their courtside seats, a Lakers player recovered a ball at the Grizzlies’ end of the floor. That player attempted a pass to Bryant. In attempting to get control of the ball, Bryant came into contact with a Grizzlies player and careened out of bounds, into or onto the plaintiff. Geeslin spilled his beer, and was pushed backwards in the folding chair.
Geeslin alleges that Bryant, in getting himself up and back into the game, pushed his forearm into Geeslin’s chest in an unnecessary and forceful manner, causing him injury. Geeslin also alleges that Bryant “glared” at him as he moved away and did not apologize. In asserting that Bryant used more force than necessary, Geeslin suggests that Bryant may have been frustrated by the Lakers’ losing score and the referee’s refusal to call a foul on the player allegedly responsible for Bryant’s fall.
After the contact between Geeslin and Bryant, Geeslin and his friend returned to the skybox for a period of time and then went home. Two days later, Geeslin sought medical attention for pain in his chest. He was diagnosed with a bruised lung cavity, and received
3 ibuprofen, another medicine, and a breathing machine. Geeslin’s physical symptoms
dissipated after two weeks, but he alleges he also suffered from continued anxiety stemming from the incident, for which he received prescriptions for Xanax and Ambien from his primary care physician.
Geeslin filed suit against Bryant shortly after the game.1 The Amended Complaint, filed after Geeslin’s death, alleges claims of assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, asserting that the incident between Geeslin and Bryant “contributed as a proximate cause to [Geeslin’s] death on June 17, 2008.” The district court granted Bryant’s motion for summary judgment, and this appeal followed.
II. We review the district court’s summary judgment determination de novo. Sigler v.
Am. Honda Motor Co., 532 F.3d 469, 482 (6th Cir. 2008). Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the entry of summary judgment is proper if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). There is no dispute that Tennessee law applies in this diversity case. See Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938).
A. Assault and Battery
The tort of battery requires an intentional act that causes bodily contact that is unpermitted, harmful, or offensive. Cary v. Arrowsmith, 777 S.W.2d 8, 21 (Tenn. Ct. App.
1Bill Geeslin died in June 2008. His mother and personal representative Betty Geeslin filed a notice of suggestion of death and was substituted for plaintiff in November 2009.
4 1989). When a plaintiff has given consent for the contact, or a defendant has a just cause or
excuse for the contact, there is no battery. See Kline v. Jordan, 685 S.W.2d 295, 296 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1984) (consent); Kite v. Hamblen, 241 S.W.2d 601, 603 (Tenn. 1951) (excuse). Similarly, assault has recently been described by the Supreme Court of Tennessee as the intentional creation of “an apprehension of harm in the plaintiff.” See Hughes v. Metro. Gov’t of Nashville and Davidson Cnty., 340 S.W.3d 352, 371 (Tenn. 2011).
There is no dispute about the fact that Bryant’s initial contact with Geeslin was involuntary. Geeslin’s claim is that as Bryant got up, he, “without provocation, violently struck Mr. Geeslin with [his] elbow, causing the injuries and damages.” Geeslin’s support for this claim is his deposition testimony that (a) it was “obvious” that Bryant intended to harm him, and (b) as Bryant left the scene of contact, he “kind of pushed his arm towards me and glared at me and walked away.” Geeslin has presented no evidence distinguishing injury caused by his initial contact with Bryant from any injury caused by what Geeslin has described as Bryant’s “intentional forearm” following the initial collision. However, as outlined above, Geeslin presented his description of the events, including offensive contact by Bryant which he claims caused him injury. Bryant, on the other hand, offered neither deposition testimony nor an affidavit in opposition to the motion.
Although the district court found that Geeslin had “assumed the risk or consented to the entire contact between he and the Defendant,” by virtue of taking the courtside seat, we find that analysis applies only to the initial contact between Geeslin and Bryant and not the
5 secondary, offensive contact described by Geeslin. In viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to Geeslin, as we must, we find that a material question of fact remains on his assault and battery claims. For this reason, the district court’s entry of summary judgment for Bryant on these claims was improper. B. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
A claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress or outrageous conduct in Tennessee requires a showing by the plaintiff of (1) intentional or reckless conduct; (2) conduct so outrageous it is not tolerated by civilized society; and (3) a serious mental injury to plaintiff resulting from the conduct. Bain v. Wells, 936 S.W.2d 618, 622 (Tenn. 1997) (citing Medlin v. Allied Inv. Co., 398 S.W.2d 270, 274 (Tenn. 1966)); Johnson v. Woman’s Hosp., 527 S.W.2d 133, 138-39 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1975)). As the Tennessee Court of Appeals has described it, a successful claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress “is limited to mental injury which is so severe that no reasonable [person] would be expected to endure it.” Arnett v. Domino’s Pizza I, L.L.C., 124 S.W.3d 529, 540 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2003) (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
While Geeslin generally described symptoms including anxiety and sleeplessness following the incident, we find this is not evidence of a “severe mental injury,” which is required for this claim to survive summary judgment.2 See Miller v. Willbanks, 8 S.W.3d
2Although Geeslin asserts he was diagnosed with “anxiety, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress, among other maladies,” we note that what Geeslin points to for this “diagnosis” are notes from the emergency room visit he made on November 17, 2005, just three days after the incident.
6 607, 615 n.4 (Tenn. 1999). We also note that Geeslin’s description of the rough push by
Bryant in leaving the scene of the collision does not reach the level of “outrageous” behavior sufficient to support such a claim. Summary judgment for Bryant was appropriate here.
For these reasons, we AFFIRM IN PART AND REVERSE IN PART (reversing only the district court’s disposition of Geeslin’s assault and battery claims) and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sign a card to the First Family

Image: digitalart /

Jim --

I've known the President and the First Lady for a long time.

I've seen them face some big years before. But the year ahead will be the biggest.

And as we head into 2012, I think we should show Barack and Michelle how many folks are standing with them.

Wish the Obamas well for 2012.

A couple of us on the campaign are putting together a card for everyone to sign with our names and notes, wishing the President and the First Lady well for the year ahead. It may feel like a small gesture, but it's one that becomes very large, very quickly, when hundreds of thousands of people add their names. I just know it's going to mean the world to them.

This is Barack Obama's last campaign. Let's show him and Michelle that we'll be behind them every step of the way next year:

Thank you, and best wishes for a happy new year.


Julianna Smoot
Deputy Campaign Manager
Obama for America

Michelle's booty an issue?

You be the judge:


These are the pots trying to call Mrs. O. a kettle:



Are you kidding me, fellas?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Two new articles from the FBI on homegrown terrorists

From: Wulfhorst, Kevin C.
Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2011 9:50 AM
Subject: Two articles on the Homegrown Violent Extremist Threat for our public and private sector partners

Private and Public Sector FBI Newark Partners - I am disseminating several articles today on Cyber Security and Homegrown Violent Extremists - several of the attachments are quite large, so I apologize in advance for the size of these emails in your inbox, but in the interest of information sharing and situational threat awareness, I wanted to ensure maximum distribution.

Two articles on the Homegrown Violent Extremist Threat for our public and private sector partners -
CRS Report: American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat and US Congress Majority Investigative Report: Homegrown Terrorism: The Threat to Military Communities Inside The United States

Newark FBI does not have information on specific threats to New Jersey but is disseminating these reports for situational awareness.

Please disseminate to ROIC/JTTF, DSAC and Infragard partners.

American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat [November 15, 2011]

This is a Congressional Research Service 145-page report - I highly recommend anyone interested in or working in counterterrorism, force protection or corporate security download and read this report.

Executive Summary: The report describes homegrown violent jihadists and the plots and attacks that have occurred since 9/11. It discusses the radicalization process and the forces driving violent extremist activity. It analyzes post-9/11 domestic jihadist terrorist activity and describes law enforcement and intelligence efforts to combat terrorism and the challenges associated with those efforts. It also outlines actions underway to build trust and partnership between community groups and government agencies and the tensions that may occur between law enforcement and engagement activities. The report does not address terrorist activity against the United States conducted by foreigners, such as the airline bombing attempts by Farouk Abdulmutallab (Christmas Day 2009), the perpetrators of the Transatlantic Airliners plot (August 2006), or the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid (December 2001). Nor does the report address domestic terrorism attributed to violent extremists inspired by right-wing or left-wing ideologies and environmental, animal rights, or anti-abortion causes.

Specific plots and attacks are described throughout the report to support analytic findings. A full
description of each of the post-9/11 cases is provided in Appendix A of the report. The report
also offers policy considerations for Congress.

"This report describes homegrown violent jihadists and the plots and attacks that have occurred since 9/11. 'Homegrown' and 'domestic' are terms that describe terrorist activity or plots perpetrated within the United States or abroad by American citizens, legal permanent residents, or visitors radicalized largely within the United States. The term 'jihadist' describes radicalized individuals using Islam as an ideological and/or religious justification for their belief in the establishment of a global caliphate, or jurisdiction governed by a Muslim civil and religious leader known as a caliph. The term 'violent jihadist' characterizes jihadists who have made the jump to illegally supporting, plotting, or directly engaging in violent terrorist activity. The report also discusses the radicalization process and the forces driving violent extremist activity. It analyzes post-9/11 domestic jihadist terrorism and describes law enforcement and intelligence efforts to combat terrorism and the challenges associated with those efforts. It also outlines actions underway to build trust and partnership between community groups and government agencies and the tensions that may occur between law enforcement and engagement activities. One appendix provides details about each of the post-9/11 homegrown jihadist terrorist plots and attacks. A second appendix describes engagement and partnership activities by federal agencies with Muslim-American communities. Finally, the report offers policy considerations for Congress. There is an 'executive summary' at the beginning that summarizes the report's findings, observations, and policy considerations for Congress."

Report Number: CRS Report for Congress, R41416
Author: Bjelopera, Jerome P.
Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Majority Investigative Report: Homegrown Terrorism: The Threat to Military Communities Inside The United States

"More than 2.3 million Americans in the military have volunteered to go into harm's way overseas to combat terrorists since 9/11. But these heroes 'who shall have borne the battle,' as President Lincoln called war veterans, also have been in danger here at home -- where they should be safe and secure. The threat is real. The Department of Defense considers the U.S. Homeland the most dangerous place for a G.I. outside of foreign warzones -- and the top threat they face here is from violent Islamist extremists. […] A significant and growing number of military personnel, such as alleged Fort Hood mass murderer Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, pose a serious danger to their brothers and sisters in arms who wear the same uniform. At least 33 threats, plots and strikes against U.S. military communities since 9/11 have been part of a surge of homegrown terrorism which Attorney General Eric Holder has said 'keeps me up at night.' After Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was killed May 1, the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Defense Intelligence Agency warned thousands of U.S. law enforcement and security agencies about possible retaliatory attacks by Al Qaeda, its allies or unaffiliated homegrown terrorists on our military. Weeks after the Pakistan raid, two radicalized U.S. citizens allegedly plotted to attack military personnel in Seattle. The Majority Staff of the House Committee on Homeland Security has been conducting an investigation, which finds that 70% of the plots against military targets occurred since mid-2009 -- including the two successful homeland attacks since 9/11."

Publisher: United States. Congress. House. Committee on Homeland Security
Date: 2011-12-07
Copyright: Public Domain

Kevin C. Wulfhorst
Supervisory Intelligence Analyst
FBI Newark Division
Phone: 973-792-3274
Cell: 201-388-7585

Image: Salvatore Vuono /