The week (June 30th): Nobody asked me, but…

Once again, with a tip of a cap to Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but…

“REASONABLE DOUBTS AT DUKE” is the title of Ruth Marcus’ column in the Washington Post as she places herself squarely in the camp of those observers who are skeptical of charges that three Blue Devils lacrosse players raped an exotic dancer at a team party in March.

Marcus admits that she began presuming guilt, but has since changed her mind. She writes:

The paucity of physical evidence; the accuser’s prior unsubstantiated rape charge; her changing stories that night; sloppy and unreliable identification procedures — any of these alone, and certainly all of them together, make it hard to understand why the prosecution is going forward and impossible to imagine that it could win a conviction.

Meanwhile, the story (with a plot-line worthy of a Tom Wolfe novel) continues; it is a story that, as the old newsroom cliche goes, “has legs.” First, Reade Seligmann, the Duke player with a seemingly exculpatory alibi, returned to court in Durham and had his bail reduced from $400,000 to $100,000. Then, the same judge (Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens) reduced the bond for Collin Finnerty, another suspect in the case. David Evans, the third player accused, was found guilty of a noise violation for playing music loudly in January (at the house where the rape allegedly occured).

Life does go on, however. Duke is now looking for a permanent lacrosse coach; there’s some sentiment, it seems, for selecting Hofstra head coach John Danowski, whose son, Matt, is on the Duke squad and one of the better collegiate players in the country.

GREAT BIT OF REPORTING by Sam Farmar (The Times of London) who “ventures deep into the jungle” to interview  Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony and “challenges the Lord’s Resistance Army leader on the massacres, mutilations and mystical spirits that made him Africa’s most wanted man.” Kony, who denied the charges of employing terror tactics, tells Farmar “I will use the Ten Commandments to liberate Uganda.” One intriguing fact from the piece: Kony has the latest Newsweek magazine brought to him by “an elaborate system of runners.”

OUTGOING HARVARD PRESIDENT LARRY SUMMERS explained to ABC’s George George Stephanopoulos that he resigned after controversy over comments he made about women and their lack of progress in science to avoid distracting from the agenda he wanted to advance for the University.

Was that the real reason Summers wore out his welcome? Some commentators, among them independent journalist David Warsh, point to Summers’ brusque management style and argue that the real problem was “a fundamental mismatch between the university and the executive who in 2001 was chosen to head it.”

Summers was also interviewed by the Harvard Crimson, and spoke quite eloquently of how he had conceived his role as president of America’s oldest institution of higher learning:

I always thought Harvard’s traditions—the Harvard of common rooms and paintings on walls and House masters—could take care of itself. My job was to be with the Harvard of the future: the undergraduates, the post-docs with their lights on at two in the morning, the assistant professors sending e-mails with 3 a.m. timestamps. It was the future that I tried to be with.

IS SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN in danger of losing the August Democratic primary to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont? Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson (“Lieberman Is Paying Price for One Peck From W”) and Dick Morris (“… and why Lieberman can’t win his and shouldn’t try”) think so; Morris wants Lieberman to run as an independent (“We need you too much in Washington.”) I think Connecticut Democrats will give Lieberman the nod despite his support of the Bush Iraq policy and that the resulting “Joe-mentum” will return him to the Senate.

WHICH IS THE STRONGER BASEBALL LEAGUE, American or National? Former Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo, now with the Cincinatti Reds, doesn’t mince words: he thinks the American League is much tougher. Arroyo told the Boston Globe:

The strongest lineup in the National League probably isn’t as strong, or as tough to pitch to, as Toronto or Baltimore. If everybody’s healthy in St. Louis’s lineup, that’s probably the only one that can compare. The White Sox are tougher, Detroit this year is probably pretty tough, and then you have the Yankees, Toronto, and Baltimore in that division 19 times a year. I mean, it’s hard to pitch over there.

And don’t forget the impact of the designated hitter: there’s no “easy out” in American League line-ups. Arroyo shouldn’t complain–he may very well win the Cy Young award pitching as a National Leaguer.

PARISIANS HAVE THE RIGHT IDEA on city planning, even if they adore Jerry Lewis and Mickey Rourke. Journalist Charles Bremner reports in his Paris weblog that “…Bertrand Delanoë, the Mayor of Paris, and his left-wing council approved a 20-year development plan that maintains the ban on tall buildings. Critics dubbed it the “Amélie” plan after the 2001 film because it mainly keeps Paris the way that residents and tourists love it rather than competing with high-rise London and Shanghai.” Here’s where a little bit of civic paternalism isn’t such a bad thing. Boston’s mayor Tom Menino, who has been pushing for an “iconic tower” for the Athens of America, should take note.

WAS GEORGE ORWELL RIGHT? Can a watching Big Brother alter our behavior? BBC News reports that a poster of human eyes made people act more honestly (at least as judged by donations to a “honesty box” for drinks at a Newcastle University canteen). For what it is worth, the 1956 version of Orwell’s novel 1984 features some quite chilling Big Brother posters.

Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders
All rights reserved

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