5 things to take away from the Ricardo Lagos lecture

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Former President of Chile Ricardo Lagos came to speak at the Joukowsky Forum at the Watson Institute yesterday. Mr. Lagos is well-known for being the first socialist to take office since Salvador Allende (1966-9), and for standing up to Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship–when, following an American-backed coup, between 1974 and 1990, Pinochet’s military government detained 80,000 people and tortured almost 30,000.

Since leaving office in 2006, Lagos has been committed to promoting democracy in Latin America and around the world. The Chilean political rockstar came to the Watson Institute to ask one question, Quo Vadis (Latin for Where are you going), Latin America?

1. Latin America is more politically stable and economically progressive than the rest of the world thinks.

Currently, all Latin American states are considered democracies. Some of them are headed by women, and Brazil, the region’s most powerful nation, is currently led by a trade union advocate.

Even though that positive picture oversimplifies the political climate, above all, it shows that the region that was once plagued by conservative dictatorships is now experiencing a paradigm shift to the political left.

At the same time, the major powers in the region, namely Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Brazil are all projected to have close to $30,000 in GDP per capita within the next 10 years. In short, the region is experiencing converging rates of growth, with some countries seeing double per capita growth rates.

Mr Lagos pointed out that Latin American countries were innocent in the most recent financial recession, but that the region is not estranged from economic crisis. In fact, Latin American nations have experienced so many economic crises that they now have extremely durable systems, which makes growth rates all the more promising. Continue Reading


What we’re reading

We’ll call this the New York Times edition. I guess it really is all the news fit to print.

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Gotta start with some Rhode Island pride. The, you guessed it, New York Times feature, “A Couple Gaining Independence, and Finding a Bond,” follows two people with intellectual disabilities on their wedding day but gets at deeper themes of unconditional love, how we treat those with disabilities in the workplace and what it means to be a full member of society.

What Kind of Town Bans Books,” from the New Yorker (I know, I know) questions conventional wisdom regarding the types of people advocating for banning books through a case study of the writer’s hometown.

In stark opposition to the BlogDH Pumpkin Spice Challenge and in typical snarky fashion, Vice‘s “Fuck Pumpkin Spice” is one of the more entertaining reads circulating the interwebs this week.

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Register to vote before tomorrow’s deadline

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At a progressive university, students feel (and are!) expected to be active participants in our democratic process. But, registering to vote is usually such a hassle, especially when most students have to deal with absentee voting and reregistration. 

Now that the University has graced us with the implementation of TurboVote, a website allowing Brown students to register to vote in under five minutes, we can no longer get away with blaming our lack of involvement on the drudgery of bureaucracy. The deadline for registering to vote in the November elections is October 5th. So, if you’re interested (and you should be!) and have the willpower to get off Facebook for a few minutes to register, head over to TurboVote and do it today. 

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What we’re reading

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu...

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu…

We’ll start off with an article that’ll make you feel better about your debauchery (or Netflix use) this weekend: Laurence Steinberg of the New York Times’ “The Case for Delayed Adulthood,” which, for a change, defends millennials and our stunted growth spurts.

For the linguist: Slate‘s “Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat?” an excerpt of Dan Jurafsky’s newly released book, The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu, which questions whether or not our names for food items are arbitrary or actually sound like they taste.

The New York Times released a beautiful series of photographs devoted to exploring “Children of Immigrants” in America.

Then, there’s Emma Watson putting her Brown University education to work (she actually said that gender was a spectrum) at the United Nations:

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Live Blog: Student Panel on Palestine and Israel

 

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Note: The student panelists participating in this event asked that their names be withheld from this post. The following live blog will not include any names, but we have assigned a number to each panelist to make the discourse a little easier to follow. 

 

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9 things we learned at the Janus Campaign Finance Debate

As politically and socially active as Brown is, three (vastly important) words rarely enter the myriad of debates and discussions taking place on the Main Green, in classrooms, dorm room floors and, because this is Brown, at parties on Saturday nights: campaign finance reform.

Everyone sort of knows what it is (“we need to get money out of politics!”), but few talk about the specifics. How are we going to get money out of politics? Exactly why is that so vastly important? Is it an attainable goal?

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The Janus Forum sought to answer this question by organizing an informal debate between Harvard Professor of Law Lawrence Lessig and UCLA Professor of Law Eugene Volokh. Both are outspoken members of the campaign finance reform debate, Lessig an advocate for overhauling our current campaign finance system (he recently started a grassroots PAC to support candidates pledging to reform campaign finance laws), Volokh, an eminent critic of reform.

What ensued was a nuanced and in-depth discussion of not only the theoretical problems and solutions (or lack thereof, according to Volokh) but also of tangible steps forward. Here are the highlights.

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