Nov. 20, 2003 – Vol. 23 No. 5

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    In the News

    The Chronicle’s biweekly column In the News offers a digest of commentary and quotations by a few of the University faculty members, students and alumni who have been headlining the news in recent weeks. Chicago faculty members are some of the most frequently quoted experts, so space allows publishing references to only selected examples. To read many of the full newspaper articles mentioned in this column, visit the In the News column at the University News Office Web site: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/.

    Geoffrey Stone, the Harry Kalven Jr. Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School and the College, was mentioned in a front-page Chicago Tribune story that appeared Tuesday, Nov. 11. Stone was noted, among others, for having written friend-of-the court briefs arguing against the detention of 16 foreigners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Stone wrote his brief on behalf of Fred Korematsu, a former Japanese detainee during World War II. He argued that, “history teaches that, in time of war, we have often sacrificed fundamental freedoms unnecessarily.”

    Preliminary research conducted at the University by Howard Moltz, Professor Emeritus in Psychology, and Leann Kinnunen, a recent University Ph.D. graduate in Psychology, was the subject of a story published in the Thursday, Nov. 13 Chicago Tribune. The study Moltz led found that sexual orientation in men appears to be connected to brain metabolism. “Whether this neurochemical difference is the cause of, or a consequence of, or something that accompanies this kind of heterosexuality and homosexuality is yet to be determined. But it’s the strongest research I know to suggest that it might be hardwired,” said Moltz.

    David Strauss, the Harry N. Wyatt Professor in the Law School, was quoted in a Wednesday, Nov. 12 New York Times front-page article reporting on the detention cases brought to the Supreme Court, regarding foreign nationals who are being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the U.S. government’s objections that the Court hear the cases. Accepting the detainees’ appeals, the Supreme Court justices framed their question for review of the cases as: “Whether the United States courts lack jurisdiction to consider challenges to the legality of the detention of foreign nationals captured abroad in connection with hostilities and incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.” Strauss commented on the Bush administration’s position. “I’m surprised the administration chose to defend such a hard-line position. It’s almost as if they are interested in vindicating an abstract point.”

    A study of baboon behavior at Brookfield Zoo, conducted by Jessica Whitham, a doctoral student at the University, was the topic of an article published in the Monday, Nov. 10 Chicago Sun-Times. Whitham observed the baboons over a six-month period, watching the greeting rituals that lead them to develop close relationships with each other. “The animals were using the signals to test the quality and strength of bonds,” said Whitham of the baboons’ gestures, expressions and touching. “You might think it some sort of paradox to see them reaching these types of greetings. These signals are hard to fake.”

    Jean Bethke Elshtain, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor in the Divinity School, was quoted in a USA Today story about the life-and-death debate over Terri Schiavo who, since 1990, has been living in a vegetative state. Schiavo’s husband, who wants to remove her feeding tube, is opposed by his wife’s parents, who believe their daughter’s occasional smiles indicate she may yet respond to therapy. After Florida judges had repeatedly ruled Schiavo’s husband had the right to remove his wife’s feeding tube, the Florida Legislature enacted a law to specifically allow Gov. Jeb Bush to order the tube restored. “There is a great mystery surrounding these kinds of states,” said Elshtain of Schiavo’s condition. “We don’t know what all is going on. And presented with a mystery, I would err on the side of life. A vegetable doesn’t smile.”

    Steven Levitt, the Alvin H. Baum Professor in Economics, was on Crain’s Chicago Business publication’s “Forty under 40” list of innovative professionals who are making significant contributions to various fields. Levitt, 36, who won the American Economic Association’s John Bates Clark Medal, is known for research that often is regarded as iconoclastic in its scope. “I try to make economics real,” said Levitt. His research has tackled investigations into legalized abortion and dropping crime rates; teacher cheating in Chicago schools; the economics of gang activity; and the career prospects for African-Americans who have distinctly African-American names. “I don’t want to be a public intellectual,” said Levitt. “The thing I like best is sitting in my office with a big pile of data, trying to find a pattern.”

    Representatives from the University’s College Bowl team-Edward Cohn, a fourth-year graduate student in Soviet History, and Susan Ferrari, a first-year graduate student in Cancer Biology-were guests on WGN Radio’s Extension 720 program Tuesday, Nov. 11. The students competed in a quiz bowl against students from Northwestern University’s quiz bowl team. One of the most successful teams in the history of the game, Chicago has won 103 tournaments. Cohen and Ferrari beat Northwestern 35 to 33 on the radio show.

    Douglas Diamond, the Merton H. Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance in the Graduate School of Business, was quoted in the Monday, Nov. 3 issue of BusinessWeek in a story headlined “The Ups and Downs of Market Liquidity.” Diamond discussed actions taken by the Federal Reserve Board following the October 1987 stock market crash. To get the market functioning again, the Fed urged big banks to lend money to technically insolvent specialists and market makers so they could continue trading, he said. In turn, the Fed promised the banks they could borrow from it without restraint.

    Allen Sanderson, Senior Lecturer in Economics, was quoted in a Wednesday, Oct. 29 Chicago Sun-Times column about the new rookie basketball player LeBron James, who has signed a $90 million contract over seven years with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The article described the negative publicity the National Basketball Association has gotten because of some players’ off-court behavior, including the rape trial of Kobe Bryant and the hype that has been building around James’ anticipated performance on the court. The columnist questioned the lofty expectations the NBA and basketball fans have for the 19-year-old James, who is being touted as the next Michael Jordan. When asked why the NBA does not spread around its player hype, Sanderson answered: “The NBA is somewhat terrified by the off-court antics of Allen Iverson. A large number of those types of things could be very damaging to the league. Realize it wasn’t until the early 1980s that the NBA Finals were even shown live on television. We haven’t had a long love affair with professional basketball. Michael Jordan carried this league for 10 years, and some of the younger guys tried to take the mantle, but fans didn’t warm to them. The NBA really does need a next generation.” Sanderson also was quoted in a Monday, Nov. 3 story that appeared in Crain’s Chicago Business, which reported on the Chicago Blackhawks’ current woes.