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Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – When many of our students arrive at the Clinton School, they have never before set foot in Little Rock much less explored the state of Arkansas. They come from all across the country and the world—from Anaheim, Calif., to State College, Penn., to Birmingham, Ala., and from Amman, Jordan to Nha Tran City, Vietnam to Harbin, China. With all of these new visitors to Arkansas, it’s really up to those students who are homegrown Arkansans to show off the culture and beauty of the Natural State.
Russ Swearingen of Rogers, Ark., did just that in organizing a Buffalo River camping trip for some of his non-Arkansan classmates this past weekend. The students camped near Ponca at Steel Creek along the Buffalo. They endured sub 40-degree temperatures overnight after spending the day hiking to Whitaker Point (pictured below). Upon returning to civilization, the students reported sightings of turkey, deer and North Arkansas’s growing elk population. Aluminum foil dinners and tonka pies were the cuisine of choice for the campers.
Those who attended include Swearingen, Ryan Lewis, Tim Giattina, Loan Vu, Tina Dian, Carly Benkov, Jay Thompson, James Szenher and Lukman Arsalan.
Posted by student LINDSEY CLARK – As all eyes are focused on Iowa, those in the political world may want to turn their attention to a different region of the US–Hollywood. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is on strike after failed talks to resolve issues on royalties from the sale of dvds and television shows on the internet. Thousands of writers in the industry are holding picket signs, instead of pens to write scripts for numerous television programs.
Among those affected are the late night talk shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, The Tonight Show, and Saturday Night Live. These shows often use daily news to help script monologues and skits. In the past, political figures have used these staples of pop culture to reach a younger demographic of voters. Some, including current California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, have used these late night forums to announce their campaigns. However, with these programs being forced into reruns, politicians may have to get creative in engaging 18-39 year-olds.
The last writers’ strike occurred in 1988 and lasted 22 weeks. If the strike lasts this long, it wouldn’t be until mid-April that new shows could be written, after 44 states and the District of Columbia hold primaries.
Of course there is no telling how long the current strike will last. But a prolonged strike could be problematic for a couple of other reasons. First, in addition to political candidates being featured, show such as The Daily Show and Colbert Report included guests, such as Al Gore, who discuss relevant issues that could be a feature in next fall’s presidential election. Secondly, many late night shows provide comic relief from the mud slinging nature of political campaigns. Name calling and dirt digging have already begun and we are still a year away from the election. Without the satire from Real Time with Bill Maher or Jon Stewart, it could make for a very long election year.
Reality programs are slated to fill the void of scripted television shows if the strike lasts into February. We could always have a Dancing with the Candidates or Survivor: White House starring the potential presidential nominees. While late night TV may not have a huge influence in swaying votes, it does have an impact and stake in the political realm. They also provide us with a laugh, at the very least, and candidates may want to add Hollywood and the WGA to their list of campaign stops.
Lindsey Clark of Columbus, Ohio, is a Clinton School student working toward her Master of Public Service Degree.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – We are not starting a football team. Let me be clear about that. The closest things we have to organized sports are occasional football, frisbee and kickball activities on Tyler Denton Field, located on the east side of the Clinton Presidential Park.
However, because of the diverse locations of our students and staff, as well as the colleges they attended, the NCAA Bowl Championship Series and the post season bowl games are drawing great interest and sparking spirited debate and conversation.
For example, Lindsey Clark, from Columbus, Ohio, said she couldn’t even watch the final moments of the Illinois-Ohio State football game this weekend when the Buckeyes took their first loss of the season. A devoted Buckeye fan, Lindsey is now hoping for a win over Michigan and a Rose Bowl bid. If that happens, Arizona State could be the opponent in Pasadena. Clinton School student Sara Himelfarb is an Arizona State graduate, also a huge football fan, who watched her team edge UCLA (the alma mater of student Ryan Lewis) 24-20. She is rooting for the Sun Devils to beat USC in their march to the Rose Bowl.
Mike Townsend is from Lexington, Ky. He bleeds Kentucky blue. It’s been an exciting football year for the University of Kentucky with the likelihood of a bowl appearance still ahead. Mike particularly enjoyed the win over the University of Arkansas, the alma mater of students, J.D. Lowery, Mollie Merry and Hunter Riley. Tim Giattina, on the other hand, has had a rough year. A Notre Dame graduate, he is enduring the worst Fighting Irish football season in history and much grief from his classmates. Tim’s season saving grace is that he is from Birmingham and is also a big Alabama supporter. He and his classmate Sanford Johnson, an Auburn graduate, are going to have fun in anticipation of that upcoming and highly charged intrastate match up.
Clinton School student and Harvard graduate Geoff Kearney will tell you that the Harvard-Yale football game is every bit as exciting as any rivalry in the country. Former President Bill Clinton, a Yale law school graduate, would likely agree with him. Pennsylvania native and student Jay Thompson lost a five-cent wager with award winning author, sportswriter and Clinton School speaker Mitch Albom when Ohio State beat Penn State earlier in the season. Jay still hasn’t recovered though Penn State is in the Top 25 in some of the polls.
Our international students from Brazil, China, Haiti, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, South Africa and Vietnam are taking all this football fanatisicm in stride and in some cases with sheer amazement. Some saw their very first college football contest when University of Arkansas President Dr. Alan Sugg invited them to a Razorback game earlier this year.
Just wait until they get introduced to March Madness.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Today is Veterans Day (officially commemorated Monday, November 12), a time when we should pause to remember and to thank all those who served our country in the military.
I think about my dad who served as a commander of a Coast Guard ship in the Pacific during World War II. My Dad and my uncle, an Air Force pilot, are both members of “The Greatest Generation.”–though they never have thought of themselves as great; they thought serving was their responsibilty.
I also remember my high school friend, Richad Hix, one of the toughest football running backs I’ve ever known, who joined the Marines and was killed in Vietnam. Everytime I walk past the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, I stop and find Richard’s name.
But just the other day I confirmed another meaning of the word Veteran. While I was speaking on a college campus, one student in the audience told me he was interested in attending the Clinton School but didn’t think he would qualify because of his lack of public service experience. I asked him what he had done and after he finished describing his career, he humbly added “my college years were interrupted because as a member of the National Guard, I served in Iraq.” He said he didn’t know whether military service was considered public service.
My response was immediate: military service is public service at its very highest calling. When he told me about his time on the streets of Baghdad and in other Iraq locations, and then added his very strong undergraduate grade point average, I said: “apply.” I sure hope he does, and I hope other veterans do as well.
The Clinton School remembers, honors, thanks and most certainly welcomes those who served our country.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Four Clinton School students who are interested in performing their International Public Service Project next summer in Tanzania had the unique opportunity Friday to meet with Mike Retzer, the U.S. ambassador there. Students Sanford Johnson of Clarkesdale, Miss.; Marquita Little of Little Rock; James Mitchell of Cleveland, Miss. and Idonia Trotter of Pine Bluff met for a question and answer session for almost two hours with Ambassador Retzer. The ambassador, whose home is in Greenville, Miss., was appointed to his post by President George W. Bush. We appreciated the ambassador’s time and his willingness to assist Clinton School students as they prepare for their international projects.
Posted by ERIC WILSON – A recent New York Times article stated that 20 percent of NYTimes.com readers were also on Facebook. The Clinton School Facebook Group currently has 298 members. While we hit almost every academic institution in Arkansas, we also hit places such as Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, GWU, Chicago, New York, Boston Uni., N.C. State, William and Mary, Brown, Temple, Portland State, all over California, Austria, India, Vienna University, Mexico and many many more.
Students are using the group to post pictures and discuss public service topics. If you are a Facebook user, check out the Clinton School group by clicking here.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – Speaking at Lyon College in his hometown of Batesville last night, Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford accessed the unpredictability and excitement of the coming presidential primary season. We are 56 days from the Iowa caucus, the earliest in history, and Dean Rutherford predicts both parties will have clear nominees by Super Tuesday on February 5 when 19 states, including Arkansas, will hold their primaries.
Rutherford noted some interesting statistics:
-As has been analyzed everywhere, 2008 will be the first election without a sitting president or vice president in the field since 1952. This has been the case only eight times in our country’s history, and on all eight occasions, the Republican candidate has been victorious. Some notables are Eisenhower in 1952, Hoover in 1928 and Lincoln in 1860.
-Recent polling shows that 50 percent of Americans “strongly disapprove” of President Bush’s performance, surpassing President Nixon’s numbers during the height of the Watergate scandal.
-Polling also shows that young Americans (ages 18-29) strongly favor Democrats (62 percent) over Republicans (30 percents) in the coming congressional races. And while 5 million more young adults voted in 2004 than did in 2000, that number could continue to rise with growing Internet social networks (FaceBook, My Space, etc.) and the onset of more and more “text messaging” among young people. Don’t doubt that campaigns will use these outlets as tools to turn out the youth vote.
-The most telling stat of all could be this: 47 percent of likely voters believe Democrats are the best party to handle a military threat, while 42 percent side with Republicans. Republicans have long been the party of choice for national security, but that could be changing for 2008.
Among all of the statistic and analysis one thing is certain – Arkansas will once again remain in the spotlight as Hillary Clinton leads the Democratic field and Mike Huckabee continues to make waves as a “dark horse” for the Republicans.
To keep track of all that encompasses the 2008 elections, Dean Rutherford and the Clinton School Blog recommend the following blogs and Web sites:
Posted by Clinton School student JOSE GUZZARDI – Microcredit is a popular concept in the area of international development, especially since Muhammad Yunus, who recently visited with Clinton School students, received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Grameen Bank to provide loans to poor people based on trust rather than collateral. One of the major challenges to this idea, however, was that not enough banks were willing to take the risks necessary to help millions of entrepreneurs seeking small help to lift themselves out of poverty.
Now we have the chance to completely change this reality! Kiva.org is a Web site that has destroyed the monopoly over microcredit that governments and financial institutions had in the past. It enables individuals like you and me to make loans to unique small businesses in developing countries–and it can be done with as little as $25.
Anyone can sign up to Kiva and choose to “sponsor a business.” You can search for people by gender, sector or geographic location. Once you locate an idea that you feel confident about and would like to help, you can lend your money with just a few clicks.
I just made my first microloan through Kiva to a small business in the Dominican Republic. Llama de Amor is a group of six women who run a small grocery store in need of $1,450 dollars to purchase inventory of bread, milk, rice and other items. They proposed a repayment term of six months, which would be paid monthly. I felt confident about their plan and lent $25. While this may seem a small amount compared to what they needed, my loan was combined with the loans of 37 other individuals and within one day, the full amount was available to Llama de Amor.
Kiva.org gives us a tremendous opportunity to take ownership over microcredit and international development throughout the world. If every American lent $25 to a small business through Kiva, about $7.5 billion—nearly equal to the entire budget of the United States Agency for International Development—would be invested into the developing world. And this money would be paid back within a few short months.
Please take a few moments to visit Kiva.org and consider lending a little money to some of these amazing people who want to work their way out of poverty.
Jose Guzzardi of Sao Paulo, Brazil, is a Clinton School student working toward his Master of Public Service Degree.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – It’s always energizing to visit other schools from time to time, and this week I did just that with a two-day speaking and recruiting visit to the University of Mississippi. For those who have never been to Oxford where William Faulkner and John Grisham both made their literary marks and where, in 1962, James Meredith and Governor Ross Barnett engaged in one of the most memorable confrontations of the Civil Rights Movement, you should go. (There is now a statue of Meredith outside the building where he attempted to register for class. Its significance can’t be underestimated just like the importance of the Little Rock Nine Monument on the Arkansas State Capitol grounds). Oxford is an easy day trip from Little Rock.
While Ole Miss’ “Grove” is America’s best place to tailgate during football games and Oxford’s Square Books is America’s best independent bookstore, the Sally McMillan Barksdale Honors College, the Trent Lott Leadership Institute, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconcilation and the Croft Institute for International Studies among many others on the Ole Miss campus are outstanding academic and leadership centers.
In addition to meeting with students, faculty and staff, I had the opportunity to visit with Clinton School graduate Katie Snodgrass who is on staff at the Croft Institute, as well as catching up with journalist, author and now professor Curtis Wilke and Ole Miss alumnus and former Little Rock resident Doug Hederman. Doug and his family generously donated the pavilion/stage in the Grove where Ole Miss holds its graduation ceremonies, pep rallies, concerts and other activities.