April 21, 2004
Students Lobby Congress for Israel Security Resolutions
| April 21, 2004
This past weekend, I and about 20 other Cornell students took our bags and our beliefs to the nation’s capitol. The Cornell-Israel Public Affairs Committee (CIPAC) organized the trip with the help of students at George Washington University, allowing everyone to stay in Washington, D.C., and meet with our congressmembers’ offices to discuss two resolutions regarding the security of Israel.
Many of the students had never lobbied before and were excited not only to argue for causes they support, but also to learn about and become a part of a lawmaking process that often seems inaccessible.
A week prior to the trip, Max Chamovitz, an American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbyist, visited the group and conducted a training session about lobbying government officials. He explained that many government officials enjoy meeting with constituents.
Chamovitz taught strategy and etiquette to the students, who then practiced arguments they might give to specific congressmembers.
We arrived in Washington late Thursday night and stayed with students in the GWU dorms. Friday morning, after breakfast and a review of the issues at hand, the entire group met with Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s (D-N.Y.) foreign policy legislative assistant, Mike Iger, to discuss the two resolutions.
Dan Greenwald ’05, vice-president of campus relations for CIPAC, lobbied on behalf of concurrent resolution 390, considered by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The resolution condemns the United Nations’ request for the International Court of Justice, the U.N.’s judicial body at the Hague, to give an “advisory opinion concerning the international legal consequences arising from Israel’s construction of a security fence in parts of the West Bank, and for other purposes.”
“We chose H Con Res 390 because the construction of the Israeli security fence is a very important step in bringing peace to Israelis and Palestinians,” Greenwald said. “It will be impossible to negotiate a final peace accord while suicide bombers blow themselves up in Israeli caf
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April 22, 2004
Judith Pastel, superintendent of the Ithaca City School district, publicly announced a zero-tolerance discrimination policy for the district yesterday afternoon in response to a series of racially-charged incidents at the high school. Pastel announced the new policy to a small audience at a press conference with seven other representatives for the school district and associated organizations in attendance. She had previously stated a zero-tolerance policy for “racial, sexual orientation, gender or biased hate crimes or discriminatory acts” last Thursday at a Community Leadership Meeting. In the press conference, she addressed questions about the incidents that have occurred over the past two months. Last Friday afternoon, the Ithaca Police Department received reports of five incidents of graffiti at Ithaca High School, three with racist implications. One threatened violence against black students, one had a racist message, and one had the Ku Klux Klan symbol, according to WBNG-TV Action News. On March 23, the IPD brought six white and three black students into custody and charged them with disorderly conduct after a fight at the school. Some parents refused to send their children back to school after the fight, fearing more racially-biased incidents, according to the Ithaca Journal. The staff dealt with issues of controversial clothing and graffiti prior to and after the fight. Two days after the fight, staff took disciplinary action against a student who wore a white supremacist t-shirt and white hood into school. The day after, 80 students wore camouflage to school. In addition to these events, some graffiti over the past six months has carried racist overtones. At the conference, Pastel said that the school district is taking “explicit steps” to address these issues. Last Friday morning, the high school had two assemblies announcing the policy to students and faculty. For the future, Pastel said that the district is focusing on “equity staff development,” with teacher training emphasizing the importance of fairness. She said that the district is also considering changing parts of the high school curriculum. They may begin a program entitled “Racial and Ethnic Tensions: What Should We Do?” in ninth grade, in a revised form from the current twelfth grade program. However, she said that this option is only one of many and that the school board would have to discuss it with teachers. “It’s very important the staff be involved in this decision-making,” she said. She also cited Second Steps, an anti-violence and anti-bullying program, as an example of action the district is currently taking. Later, she said that the district is thinking about instituting a transition program for students re-entering the classroom after being involved in a bias incident, somewhat like drug and alcohol re-entry programs now in use at the high school. After Pastel’s general statements, Eldred Harris, a representative from the organization Village at Ithaca, read an official statement. Village at Ithaca is a community group working to eliminate the academic divide keeping black and Latino students from achieving their full potential. He said that although the group was “very pleased” to hear Pastel’s announcement, they had some suggestions and criticisms. In particular, they advocated that the school district not eliminate a staff position focusing on multicultural issues, one program that the district is considering cutting under the new budget. Although the current events have largely revolved around racial issues, Pastel stressed the idea that the zero-tolerance policy extended to all discrimination. “What we’re talking about is the broad breadth and depth of biases,” she said. She also said that the actions at the high school are only a symptom of a larger systemic problem. She said that she sees two different school districts, one where some students are “reaffirmed on a daily basis” and another where students are uncomfortable and feel discriminated against. “What we have to make sure to do is have one Ithaca school system,” she said. “I don’t want to just focus on the high school.” Chuck Bartosch, the president of the Board of Education, agreed that the racist behavior was indicative of a larger problem, and mentioned the role of the community in shaping these actions. He also said the media affects people’s attitudes through the issues and events that it covers. “The media does have a strong role to play,” he said. Both Bartosch and Pastel recommended the local media put effort into covering positive programs and events rather than exclusively focusing on problems. Others criticized the working atmosphere of the school. Harris said that the school district needs to improve its climate and that he has heard reports from teachers in the school that “it’s not a friendly environment” to work in. After questions from the media, Pastel opened the floor to limited comments from the audience. Yolanda Clarke, a parent of a student at Ithaca High School and an academic advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences, agreed that the district needed to improve the climate for students, staff and parents. “I really don’t like the fact [that] in order to get attention at this school I have to say I work at Cornell and I am an assistant dean,” she said. She said she has seen signs of tension among teachers as well, and added, “There’s stuff that’s going on below the surface beyond these kids.” Overall, the response at the meeting appeared positive, with the audience calmly posing questions and statements. Barbara Bauer, another parent, thought that the zero-tolerance policy was a good step. However, she sees the resolution of this behavior as coming from the student body itself, who was generally “embarrassed and ashamed” about the incidents. “They don’t want to be associated with that kind of thing,” she said.Archived article by Shannon BrescherSun Senior Writer
April 22, 2004
In recent history, popular culture has tarred or simply forgotten Prince’s legacy. I know the kids don’t understand this anymore, so to gently remind: This is the star who, with one song (“Sign ‘O the Times”), launched political underground hip-hop, Beck’s commercial career, and a capital punishment by funk. But the man who lathered every known instrument in his impish funk-love is now no more than a cruel, unpronounceable joke, coming from a time when the radio would play quaint little songs about AIDS and jacking off. But as the years creeped by and recent Prince albums became more and more irrelevant and inscrutable, it became evident (perhaps surprisingly) that a world without Prince is not a world anyone wants to live in. Prince is the R&B version of water: essential to life and composing 85 percent of our body. Whether you’re aware of it or not. After a vicious battle with Warner Bros. that left his lovely face scarred and enslaved (literally), his NPG Records willfully became more and more insular and prolific. By the time 1996’s Emancipation hit, it was the longest album of all-new material ever released in pop music history. And one of the longest failures. When N.E.W.S. came out last year, the album of four 14-minute textural and sonic explorations seemed more influenced by Sonic Youth than Sly Stone. This year, the world once again encountered Prince as he slyly hid under the awnings of Beyonce’s glistening, bronze body at the Grammy Awards. People could barely contain their enthusiasm. “BEYONCE!,” they shrieked. “I’M SPEECHLESS!” And one griseous old coal miner in the back of the theatre croaked out, “There’s that Prince fellow.” After a combustible performance at his induction to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Prince returns with his alleged comeback, the tepidly entitled Musicology. And if it doesn’t even try to soar as high as 1999 or Parade, it’s awfully reminiscent of, well, Prince, which should be enough for anyone to enjoy. It would take a septennial to develop a better album introduction than the title track. A bass riff bamboozles the hissing synths with a fury unparalleled since the heyday of the J.B.’s. Prince’s eunuch grunts, and dented lungs toss off categorical imperatives like they were undergarments: “Listen to the groove, y’all.” And it even encapsulates that charismatic Prince megalomania as he ends the track listening to a radio that can’t stop playing his hits. The only downside is his shout-outs to Chuck D. and Jam Master Jay, which is a little bit like Miles Davis giving a shout-out to Billy Joel and Justin Timberlake. “Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance” is the political tract, even if it’s not exactly what most of us would call coherent. Prince gets all Hegelian on us, inquiring, “Who’s pimpin’ who?” My initial guess was the pimp, but by the end of the song I stood corrected. This tale of a “dirty dog with hips and chicks” sports sparse, bright punctuations that sprout into lambent bouts of proto-jazz, post-funk guitar. It concludes with the immortal line, “Put your name on this pre-nup, and let’s go to the disco.” The party just keeps on impercofying with “Life O’ the Party,” a filthy, cracking beat that rebounds off a sole plucked string as Prince’s party jam evolves into a grimaced rant on plastic surgery and his sexuality. At the same time, it’s a return to those more innocent party anthems of Sam Cooke and The Beatles’ “Birthday.” “Dear Mr. Man” flounders in some sinister ’40s jazz, handily quotes Matthew 5:5, and condemns Cheney in one deft stroke. Though there is a notable absence of ballads, “A Million Days”‘ serene, limpid orchestra hums along under some of Prince’s most effective lyrics in a decade: “I didn’t have the heart to say I’m sorry/ I don’t have a heart at all.” The chorus is a conflagration of total, devastated melancholy and superhero anthem. On “Cinnamon Girl” (no, not that one), stomping synth patches squeal over chunky, masturbating guitar and a solemnizing choir. If Prince doesn’t exactly sound like Neil Young, his voice takes on a new resonance and sincerity rarely heard from this smoothest of singers. Is it a return to form? Are you dense? Prince is the return. Prince is the form. That’s like asking “Is it a Prince to Prince?” That doesn’t even make sense, and the answer is still yes. Prince is pure affirmation. When the critics look back on this decade, its canon will consist of Dylan, Springsteen, Prince, Johnny Cash, David Byrne, and Solomon Burke. The generation war is over, and we lost. We younglings are simply. All we can do is listen to the commands of Prince’s Gulag: “Listen to the groove, y’all.” Archived article by Alex LinhardtRed Letter Daze Editor-in-Chief