MINNESOTA POLITICIANS. Brother Ezra asked today at lunch, "What's the deal with Al Franken?" It was a good question. I hadn't heard much in a little while about his Senate bid in Minnesota. Polling showsthat Franken is likely to win the nomination, as he leads trial lawyer and fellow DFL contender Mike Ciresi 52-29, but [corrected from the original] that even if Franken does get the nomination, incumbent Norm Coleman currently has him beat by about 22 points in a general match-up.
THE LAW OF WAR. Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani is in court today to testify about what happened when a group of Marines went "out of control" in violating the law of war, killing 24 Iraqi civilians, "some of them children still in their pajamas." Chessani is under scrutiny because he didn't report the killings as anything different than the ordinary acts of war. Prosecutors in court are going to ask, how many civilian deaths would it take to raise alarm?
HOMELESS VETS. Congress is already worried about veterans returning from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan who simply don't readjust well, but obviously the situation can be more dire than just that. The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee held a hearing last week to discuss how to prevent homelessness among veterans and the related problem of budget shortfalls faced by the VA. One thing Women's Policy, Inc. pointed out was that the increasing number of women veterans will cause unique challenges:
MAKING RANK.The Chronicle of Higher Education had an excellent article this week about the controversy over U.S. News and World Report's annual college and university rankings. As the WaPo reported this weekend, universities are as usual less than pleased with the power these listings have. The Chronicle fleshes out some of the methodological problems with the rankings: "In 1997 U.S. News hired a consultant, the National Opinion Research Center, to evaluate its methodology.
STRAINED RESERVES. The Center for American Progress released a report today about the overstretched nature of the National Guard and Reserves, a follow-up to their report in March that stated the under-prepared nature of the United States to deal with natural and terrorist disasters domestically.