Archive for August, 2011
Syria, Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya — countries with authoritarian regimes that are facing or have faced popular uprisings this year. Has the Middle East come to a point where dictators in the region recognize that their days are numbered? James Le Sueur, UNL professor of history and a scholar of the region, looks at why long-standing dictators like Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi tend to cling to power so long, even in the face of overwhelming public sentiment. Video of Dr. Le Sueur on Mideast dictators
“What happens to these dictators and how did they get into this position of holding onto power for too long? I tend to think this has to do with a concept I like to think about as Post-Colonial Time Disorder. These leaders can’t think outside the framework in which they came to power. In the 1950s and the 1960s, a period of post-colonialism, that framework was influenced by the emerging policies of the new nation-state. It was also influenced by a desire for that nation to hold onto sovereignty and unity through a strong-willed authoritarian type.
“That leadership no longer works. It’s clear that the broader pushes for change this year have taught us that people can no longer accept a dictator who thinks he should stay in power because he believes he represents the national will. Those days are clearly over — from Syria to Egypt to Libya to Tunisia and so on.
“We’ve seen populations rise up against those authoritarian leaders who simply refuse to move out from this Post-Colonial Time Syndrome and into the modern era, which embraces democratization and political reform. The effects of that stagnation, and the effects of the refusal to listen to the population calling for change leads us to people like Gaddafi, who simply refuse to see the nation outside of himself.
“Muammar Gaddafi will forever stand as a symbol of egoism, of national pride, in some cases — but also a problem that one must analyze and simply overcome. the Arab Spring now turns to Fall, and all we can do now is wait.”
Contact Dr. Le Sueur for an interview at 402.472.3255 or email@example.com. See a video of Dr. Le Sueur discussing the state of Middle Eastern dictators.
Libyan rebels took control of Muammar Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli after battling loyalist forces for control of the capital for a third day on Tuesday. Meanwhile, they also continued their hunt for the elusive dictator as fighting continued elsewhere in Libya. As Gaddafi’s 40-year reign teeters on the brink, thoughts begin to turn toward what is next for the embattled and long-opressed north African country. Can the country unite to form a civil society and become a functioning democracy? How should the United States react?
We asked Patrice McMahon, associate professor of political science at UNL, for her thoughts. McMahon has extensive fieldwork experience in statebuilding during her time in Kosovo and Bosnia. She also recently finished an edited volume on statebuilding called Getting Its Act Together? The International Community and Statebuilding (forthcoming Routledge: London 2012) and is the author of the forthcoming Partners in Peace? Nongovernmental Organizations in Peacebuilding. McMahon’s thoughts on Libya:
“The international community should not use money as a proxy for policy. Although the international community ought to help Libya and countries in need, too often problems result b/c international actors descend, throw lots of money at a country/problem. This creates rising and unrealizable expectations and dependency.
“The U.S. should coordinate its aid, efforts and policies with its allies in Europe and in the region. This relates to two common problems with statebuilding/peacebuilding: lack of coordination among international actors and the “neighborhood effect.” Transitions need good neighborhoods; regardless of what we want/hope to do, we have to support and encourage regional stability.
“Invest in democrats as well as democracy. One of the important lessons foundations, NGOs and now governments realize is that it is important to invest in and support people; this is also known as capacity building. It is not as sexy as free elections but long term projects to promote rule of law, independent courts and a free media go much further to establishing and sustaining democracy.
“Iraq and Afghanistan but other statebuilding efforts warn of the danger of allowing security to slip in the first days/months after a transition. This period is often chaotic; people are suddenly free but this does not mean that they will be responsible, fair, and peaceful.
“Intervention is never neutral and it is easy to pick the “wrong guys.” Our emphasis should be on processes, practices and institutions.”
To schedule an interview with Dr. McMahon, contact her at 402.472.3235 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Steve Smith, National News Editor, University Communications, at 402.472.4226 or email@example.com.
Four new buildings at or near completion greet UNL faculty, staff and students as the fall semester begins today.
They include the Nanoscience Metrology Facility at 16th and W streets at the north end of the Jorgensen Hall, the physics building that opened last year. The 32,000-square-foot building will provide state-of-the-art laboratories, shared research facilities and administrative space in a central location. Core facilities, equipment, labs and faculty currently are located in several buildings across campus. Half of its $13.8 million cost came from $6.9 million of federal stimulus funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The building is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in early December.
Two major practice facilities in Athletics are also scheduled to open this fall. The $18.7 million Hendricks Training Complex on the south side of the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Nebraska Innovation Campus will include a new men’s and women’s basketball practice facility and create space for a new wrestling facility. The complex has 71,420 square feet of new construction, plus 4,000 square feet of renovation in the Devaney Center. A $4.75 million indoor practice facility for baseball and softball is scheduled to be completed in September north of Haymarket Park and east of Bowlin Stadium. The 22,000-square foot building will feature a large indoor practice area, along with restrooms and storage facilities.
Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity has moved into a new house at 1645 R St. The new location comes after a trade with UNL. The fraternity gave up its old house at 1345 R St. for university-owned property at 17th and R streets.
There is also a new green space taking root near the west side of City Campus. The project replaces Ferguson Hall, which was demolished last year. The green space will honor University Hall, NU’s first building, and Ferguson Hall, both of which stood on the site.
In addition, construction is under way for the 8,100-square foot Lied Commons addition to the Lied Center for Performing Arts. The first expansion to the 20-year-old Lied Center, it will provide event space for cultural programs, education events, smaller performances and private receptions, even while events are held in the Lied Center’s main house.
Around Memorial Stadium, one construction project was completed this summer while another continues. The city of Lincoln’s Arena Roads project completed the installation of two roundabouts on Salt Creek Roadway, northwest of the stadium. The roundabouts opened Aug. 13. And, the East Stadium expansion project is also under way and is scheduled for completion prior to the 2013 football season. In addition to new fan seating, skyboxes and façade, it will include 22,000 square feet of space for a new research venture that will take a revolutionary approach to investigating the link between the brain and human behavior: the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, including a functional magnetic resonance imaging system.
UNL’s summer graduates will wear “green” at commencement exercises Aug. 12 and 13 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Not the color green — the environmental green. Sustainable academic regalia will be used for the first time. The color of the gowns will still be the traditional academic black.
The new Jostens Elements Collection fabric for the traditional commencement gown was developed using 100 percent acetate material, proven to decompose in soil in one year. The gowns are made from sustainably harvested wood pulp, and zippers are made from 100-percent recycled PET. Earth-friendly packaging contains a biofilm material that facilitates the decomposition process of the cap and gown bag.
The cost of the green regalia is slightly higher than standard regalia ($14 more), said Jennifer Verhein, assistant director of Registration and Records, who oversees commencement. But the trend is to sustainability, and students, faculty and administrators have been asking for earth-friendly options.
The debut of the green regalia coincides with an Earth-friendly-themed commencement, to include speaker John Rosenow, founder and chief executive officer of the Arbor Day Foundation. Stage decorations at the ceremonies will be selected by UNL Landscape Services, who will plant them on campus afterward.
“Our plan is for stage greenery for all future August commencement ceremonies to be selected by Landscape Architecture and incorporated into the Graduation Garden or other campus landscaping,” Verhein said.
The ceremonies include one for postgraduate degrees at 3 p.m. Aug. 12 and one for baccalaureate degrees at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 13. Approximately 800 students will receive diplomas, some 430 for master’s, doctoral and law degrees and about 370 for baccalaureate degrees.
It’s been said that entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art, it’s a practice. But which parts of the United States are getting the most practice? According to a new state-by-state measurement of entrepreneurial activity, New York is at the top, followed by Washington, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Oregon.
The Empire State topped the newly released State Entrepreneurship Index, a nationwide analysis and ranking method that evaluates how states stack up in terms of business formation and innovation.
Economists at UNL’s Bureau of Business Research and Department of Economics developed the State Entrepreneurship Index, or SEI, by combining five key components – a state’s percentage growth and per capita growth in business establishments, its business formation rate, the number of patents per thousand residents and gross receipts of sole proprietorships and partnerships per capita.
The result is a comprehensive look at the levels of entrepreneurship in each state, said Eric Thompson, UNL associate professor of economics and director of the Bureau.
“The SEI uses a broad group of indicators rather than just raw counts of business starts,” Thompson said. “This ensures that the index reflects sales and innovation among a state’s businesses as well as the business formation rate.”
A state index for each component is assigned based on how much each state’s performance is above or below the average of all state data, which has a value of 1.0. For example, a component one standard deviation above the average gets a value of 2.0, while a component one below is assigned a value of zero. A state’s overall SEI number is the average of the five index values.
For 2010, the latest year for figures, New York’s score was 2.34, thanks to its strong performance in gross receipts per capita and substantial improvement in two other components: growth in establishments and establishments per capita. Washington (2.17), Massachusetts (2.04), New Jersey and Oregon (both at 1.93) completed the top five.
Oregon was the biggest climber in the rankings, to No. 5 from No. 45 in 2008, while Delaware moved up 28 spots to No. 14. The drastic changes were largely caused by growth in establishments and establishments per capita. Kentucky, Texas and Rhode Island also saw marked improvement, jumping 26, 25 and 25 spots, respectively.
South Carolina, with an index of 0.07, was No. 50 and Arizona (0.11) was No. 49, behind Mississippi (0.32), Nevada (0.33) and Alabama (0.41). Nevada, which was No. 7 in previous rankings, highlighted a handful of states that experienced steep drops. Arkansas, Tennessee and Utah also saw significant ranking drops, mostly because of sharp declines in growth of establishments and establishments per capita in those states.
The State Entrepreneurial Index combines detailed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the IRS Statistics of Income Bulletin, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Statistical Abstract.
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The percent of contiguous U.S. land area experiencing exceptional drought in July reached the highest levels in the history of the U.S. Drought Monitor, said an official at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the UNL.
Nearly 12 percent of the contiguous United States fell into the “exceptional” classification during the month, peaking at 11.96 percent on July 12. That level of exceptional drought had never before been seen in the monitor’s 12-year history, said Brian Fuchs, UNL assistant geoscientist and climatologist at the NDMC.
The monitor uses a ranking system that begins at D0 (abnormal dryness) and moves through D1 (moderate drought), D2 (severe drought), D3 (extreme drought) and D4 (exceptional drought). Exceptional drought’s impacts include widespread crop and pasture losses, as well as shortages of water in reservoirs, streams and wells, creating water emergencies.
Eighteen percent of the country is classified as under either extreme or exceptional drought, Fuchs said. Much of it remains contained in the south, particularly Texas, where the entire state is experiencing drought — three-fourths of it exceptional.
The most recent drought monitor report, released late last week, indicated that 59 percent of the United States was drought-free, while 41 percent faced some form of abnormal dryness or drought. Two weeks ago, 64 percent of the country was drought-free.
Other states that are at least 85 percent abnormally dry or in drought according to the report include:
* New Mexico (100 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 48 percent exceptional)
* Louisiana (100 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 33 percent exceptional)
* Oklahoma (100 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 52 percent exceptional)
* South Carolina (97 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 16 percent extreme to exceptional)
* Georgia (95 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 68 percent extreme to exceptional)
* Arkansas (96 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 6 percent extreme to exceptional)
* Florida (89 percent abnormally dry or in drought, 20 percent extreme to exceptional)
In the next two to three weeks, some affected areas may see some improvement. The wake of Tropical Storm Don should result in rainfall in the central and western Gulf Coast states, but the degree of drought relief will depend upon the storm’s intensity, as well as its track and speed.
“Whenever there is a lot of moisture in a short period of time, the potential exists for rapid improvement,” Fuchs said. “But while that possibility exists, it won’t necessarily mean the end of drought in those areas. It will likely only improve by one drought category for those areas not impacted by any tropical storms or where drought related impacts improve.”
The drought monitor combines numeric measures of drought and experts’ best judgment into a weekly map. It is produced by the NDMC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and incorporates review from 300 climatologists, extension agents and others across the nation. Each week the previous map is revised based on rain, snow and other events, observers’ reports of how drought is affecting crops, wildlife and other indicators.
Examine current and archived national, regional and state-by-state drought maps and conditions.
Contact Prof. Fuchs for an interview: (402) 472-6775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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