Innovating the 21st-Century University: It’s Time!

By , February 28, 2010 12:59 pm

Professors who want to remain relevant will have to abandon the traditional lecture and start listening to and conversing with students — shifting from a broadcast style to an interactive one. In doing so, they can free themselves to be curators of learning — encouraging students to collaborate among themselves and with others outside the university. Professors should encourage students to discover for themselves and to engage in critical thinking instead of simply memorizing the professor’s store of information. Finally, professors need to tailor the style of education to their students' individual learning styles.

The Internet and the new digital platforms for learning are critical to all of this, especially given the high student-faculty ratio in many universities. But most faculty do not have the resources to develop the required courseware. This must be co-innovated globally through new partnerships.

via Innovating the 21st-Century University: It’s Time! EDUCAUSE Review | EDUCAUSE.

‘Miranda’ dealt one-two punch by high court

By , February 25, 2010 4:42 pm

It has not been a good week for the famed Miranda warning at the hands of the Supreme Court.

In decisions issued on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Court ruled that confessions should be admitted at trial even when police interviewed suspects in circumstances that lower courts viewed as Miranda violations.

The Court on Wednesday issued Maryland v. Shatzer, establishing new, more permissive rules for police who want to question a suspect for a second time after the suspect invokes Miranda's right to remain silent.

The Maryland case came down a day after the justices decided Florida v. Powell, in which a 7-2 majority Court said that Florida's alternative wording of the Miranda warning is acceptable, even though it does not explicitly state that a suspect has a right to have a lawyer present during questioning.

Stanford Law School professor Jeffrey Fisher said the rulings continue the Court's trend of “extreme hostility toward constitutional rules that require the exclusion of evidence — especially confessions and the product of illegal searches — from criminal trials.” Fisher, who heads a National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) committee that files amicus briefs at the high court, said, “In short, this Court sees the costs and benefits of rules designed to curb police overreaching entirely differently than the Court did a generation ago. ”

Sidley Austin partner Jeffrey Green, who also assists NACDL and other defense lawyers in high court arguments, added, “At this rate, what's left [of Miranda] will be only what we see on TV.”

via ‘Miranda’ dealt one-two punch by high court.

Fearing an Obama Agenda, States Push to Loosen Gun Laws – NYTimes.com

By , February 24, 2010 12:07 pm

When President Obama took office, gun rights advocates sounded the alarm, warning that he intended to strip them of their arms and ammunition.

And yet the opposite is happening. Mr. Obama has been largely silent on the issue while states are engaged in a new and largely successful push for expanded gun rights, even passing measures that have been rejected in the past.

via Fearing an Obama Agenda, States Push to Loosen Gun Laws – NYTimes.com.

Taking a Glimpse Inside a Youth Prison in New York State

By , February 15, 2010 8:19 am

THE guard made Edwin a deal.

He was an aspiring ultimate fighter, and he wanted to practice his holds. If he won, he would take the candy he knew Edwin had hidden in his desk. If he lost, he would bring Edwin some takeout from Burger King.

They grappled once, then a second time. The third time, the guard lifted Edwin and flipped him onto the floor, hard, though not enough to cause any lasting injury. But, Edwin said ruefully, “he got all my snacks.”

For Edwin, it was just another day at the Highland Residential Center, a drab collection of run-down cottages planted in a forest not far from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., part of a state juvenile prison system under fire for its abysmal and sometimes dangerous conditions. He spent five months in a small, airless room at Highland last year, sent by a Queens family court on a graffiti charge, after a journey from skipped classes to drugs and alcohol, through counseling programs and failed stints in city-run group homes.

Highland is one of New York’s 28 prisons for youths, most of them black or Hispanic boys from New York City. A state task force concluded last year that the entire system — currently holding more than 800 youths — was fundamentally broken. It now faces a federal takeover and a class-action lawsuit.

via Taking a Glimpse Inside a Youth Prison in New York State – NYTimes.com.

‘The Autobiography of an Execution,’ by David R. Dow

By , February 13, 2010 8:40 am

Toward the beginning of “The Auto­biography of an Execution,” David Dow relaxes after a speech with the celebrated death penalty abolitionist Sister Helen Prejean. (“It was the first time I went drinking with a nun.”) Prejean tells Dow, who has represented more than 100 death row inmates over 20 years, that “support for the death penalty is a mile wide, but just an inch deep.” Dow responds: “Well, Sister, I believe you can drown in an inch of water.” This book is Dow’s effort to drain the puddle.

Statistics from the Death Penalty Information Center show that the death penalty in America is dying. In 2009, the number of death sentences dropped for the seventh consecutive year; it’s now the lowest since the Supreme Court re­instated the death penalty in 1976. Eleven states considered abolishing the death penalty last year, citing high costs and lack of measurable benefits. New Mexico just became the 15th state to abolish it. A recent study from Duke University concluded that North Carolina could save almost $11 million annually by doing away with capital punishment. And the prestigious American Law Institute, which devised the framework for the modern system of capital punishment, recently abandoned the whole project “in light of the current intractable institutional and structural obstacles to ensuring a minimally adequate system for administering capital punishment.”

via Book Review – ‘The Autobiography of an Execution,’ by David R. Dow – Review – NYTimes.com.

Drug cartels tighten grip; Mexico becoming ‘narco-state’

By , February 8, 2010 11:24 am

MEXICO CITY – For months, the leaders of Tancitaro had held firm against the drug lords battling for control of this central Mexican town.

Then one morning, after months of threats and violence from the traffickers, they finally surrendered.

Before dawn, gunmen kidnapped the elderly fathers of the town administrator and the secretary of the City Council. Within hours, both officials resigned along with the mayor, the entire seven-member City Council, two department heads, the police chief and all 60 police officers. Tancitaro had fallen to the enemy.

Across Mexico, the continuing ability of traffickers to topple governments like Tancitaro’s, intimidate police and keep drug shipments flowing is raising doubts about the Mexican government's 3-year-old, U.S.-backed war on the drug cartels.

Far from eliminating the gangs, the battle has exposed criminal networks more ingrained than most Americans could imagine: Hidden economies that employ up to one-fifth of the people in some Mexican states. Business empires that include holdings as everyday as gyms and a day-care center.

And the death toll continues to mount: Mexico saw 6,587 drug-related murders in 2009, up from 5,207 in 2008 and 2,275 in 2007, according to an unofficial tally by the respected newspaper Reforma.

Cartels have multiplied, improved their armament and are perfecting simultaneous, terrorist-style attacks.

Some analysts are warning that Mexico is on the verge of becoming a “narco-state” like 1990s-era Colombia.

via Drug cartels tighten grip; Mexico becoming ‘narco-state’.

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