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Welcome to 2013! RSS now available for our new blogs

Faithful 06520 readers:

A couple of weeks ago, we announced that the blog formerly known as 06520 is now named This Just In and is located on the Yale Alumni Magazine’s new website. You, being faithful readers, asked whether This Just In had an RSS feed.

Alas, it did not. But now it does, and you can subscribe via the This Just in home page. Also available: RSS for our Newsmaker (formerly Yalie of the Week) blog.

The 06520 archives are staying put.

06520? That’s so 2012!

This here blog of the Yale Alumni Magazine, which has been coming at you since 2009, has changed its name and location. It is now called “This Just In,” and you can find it—along with lots of other new stuff—on our new website.

If you can’t get enough of that 06520, these archives will remain online for your perusing pleasure.

Happy New Year!

Robert Bork, 1927-2012

Robert Bork. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Robert Bork. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Robert Bork stood out among his former Yale Law School faculty colleagues in a number of ways. Perhaps his least favorite distinction was becoming a verb.

Bork, who died this morning at age 85, taught at Yale Law from 1962 to 1975. He took a break to serve as solicitor general in the Nixon administration, earning notoriety as the Justice Department official who was willing to obey the president’s order to fire the Watergate special prosecutor.

Bork returned to Yale from 1977 to 1981, when President Ronald Reagan named him to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. From that position, Reagan nominated Bork for the US Supreme Court—provoking bitter opposition by those who believed the conservative judge wanted to reverse decades of legal progress for racial minorities, women, and criminal defendants.

The nomination split the Yale Law School, with some of Bork’s former colleagues testifying for him and some against. Eventually the Senate voted down the nomination, spawning the verb “bork”—as in, “you’ve been borked.”

In 2006, former student Caren Deane Thomas ’75JD called Bork “the perfect example of someone who should be kept off the Supreme Court at all costs. He was too extreme to serve on a court of last resort and showed little regard for the Bill of Rights. He had the intellectual arrogance of an ideologue, and his conservatism served causes like Watergate.” (By contrast, Thomas wrote, the Senate should approve the nomination of another conservative judge: her law school classmate Samuel Alito.)

Bork had his fans, of course, including the law students who founded the conservative Federalist Society under his tutelage and later produced this tribute video.  And journalist Jeff Greenfield ’67LLB calls Professor Bork “as bracing a figure as a student could hope to find.”

“Without question Bork was out of the mainstream of the Yale Law School in the mid-1960s, when I was a student there,” Greenfield writes today. “But that made him exactly the right person to teach, and to challenge, the assumptions of an overwhelmingly liberal group of students.

“In the years after his Supreme Court rejection, Bork became a dyspeptic, partisan figure,” Greenfield concludes. “On this day, I choose to remember him as a teacher who succeeded in the single most important job: He taught us how to think.”

Among Bork’s survivors are daughter Ellen Bork ’83 and sons Robert Bork Jr. and Charles Bork ’81.

David Brooks, Yale, and humility: peas in a pod?

When Yale announced in August that pundit David Brooks would join the faculty at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, it did not say what subject the New York Times columnist would teach. Now we know.

Humility.

“The title of the Humility course is, obviously, intentionally designed to provoke smart ass jibes, but there’s actually a serious point behind it,” Brooks tells New York magazine.

“People from Burke to Niebuhr, Augustine to Dorothy Day, Montaigne to MLK and Samuel Johnson to Daniel Kahneman have built philosophies around our cognitive, moral and personal limitations. The course is designed to look at these strategies as a guide for life and politics and everything else.”

The Yale Herald seems to have broken the story. No humility was wasted in the making of its Bullblog post.

Kerry v. Bush (the daughters). The winner: global health

VanessaKerry

Vanessa Kerry. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps—founded by Sargent Shriver ’38, ’41LLB, and President John F. Kennedy—who better to launch a “Peace Corps for doctors and nurses” than another Yale graduate, scion of another prominent Massachusetts Democratic family, daughter of an illustrious politician (and Yale alum) with the initials JFK?

We speak of Vanessa Kerry ’99, a physician, daughter of US Senator John F. Kerry ’66, and founding CEO of the Global Health Service Corps. In partnership with the government-run Peace Corps, the not-for-profit GHSC is sending doctors and nurses to developing countries to help train local health professionals for a year.

Much of the world suffers from a “drastic shortage” of 2.4 million doctors, nurses, midwives, Kerry told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “What that translates into is a classroom in Mali with over 2,000 students, one teacher, one blackboard, 100-degree heat.”

Unlike Doctors Without Borders, which sends medical professionals abroad to deliver short-term emergency care, “this is about building capacity,” the service corps’ chief administrative officer, Jennifer Goldsmith, says in a phone interview. “The emphasis is on building something self-sustaining, and on partnership with local people.”

Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush

If you are thinking that you’ve already heard about a global health initiative founded by a young female Yale graduate whose father is a world-famous politician… you’re not hallucinating. Barbara Bush ’04, daughter of former President George W. Bush ’68, is CEO of the Global Health Corps. Not to be confused with Dr. Kerry’s Global Health Service Corps, Bush’s program enlists nonmedical professionals for one-year fellowships to bring “new thinking and innovative solutions” to health organizations in the developing world.

So eight years later, it’s Bush v. Kerry all over again. This time, both contenders hope the winner will be global health.

Weekly Sports Roundup (12/10-12/16)

©Sam Rubin ’95/Yale Sports Publicity

Goalie Jeff Malcolm ’13 made 27 saves during the game against the University of Massachusetts last Tuesday. Photo: Sam Rubin ’95/Yale Sports Publicity.

As Yalies flocked to libraries across campus during reading period, athletes were no exception. The men’s ice hockey team was the only team to compete last week—but the study break proved worthwhile.

The No. 15 Bulldogs (7–3–2, 3–3–1 ECAC) skated to a 4–2 win over the University of Massachusetts on December 11. The four goals came from four different players, and Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm ’13 made 27 saves.

The Bulldogs return to the ice on December 28, when they host a Russian touring team.

Vote for president! (Of Princeton. Not that your vote will count.)

Princetonpresident.com, an unofficial search site launched as a class project.

PrincetonPresident.com, an unofficial search site launched as a class project.

A Yale graduate is in the running to be the next president of Princeton University—at least in an unofficial poll that’s being conducted online by students of another Yale graduate.

Professor Mark Alexander ’86, ’92JD, who is visiting at Princeton from nearby Seton Hall Law School, is teaching an undergraduate course called Election Law. Alexander is a prominent Democrat: a former adviser to President Barack Obama and brother of Yale professor Elizabeth Alexander ’84—Obama’s 2009 inauguration poet—he recently launched his own campaign for New Jersey State Senate in 2013. But his students decided to focus on a different set of presidential candidates: those who might succeed Princeton’s leader, Shirley Tilghman, when she steps down at the end of this school year.

So they set up a website, PrincetonPresident.com, asking their fellow undergraduates: “Who do you want the next Princeton president to be?” They first sought nominations, then chose the top five candidates and are now inviting votes.

“We wanted to gauge student opinion, then advocate on behalf of the most popular candidate(s),” the website says. Participation, however, is not restricted to Princeton students. (No, I’m not telling you how I voted.)

The Yalie in the bunch? Richard Revesz ’83JD, departing dean of New York University School of Law. Yeah, he went to Princeton undergrad.

Yalie of the Week: thanks a latke

Micah Fredman. Photo: Great Performances

Micah Fredman. Photo: Great Performances

This Hanukkah, Yalie of the Week Micah Fredman ’10 reinvents the humble potato pancake in mouthwatering—and contest-winning—fashion at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Hold the sour cream & applesauce; Fredman tops his yucca and sweet potato latkes with apple plantain sorbet, queso fresco, pickled onion, cilantro, and spicy green hot sauce.

Yale-Singapore zingers sling on

Yale-NUS College

Image: Yale-NUS College

The faculty of Yale’s fledgling offshoot in Singapore has taken a firm stand for “free expression of ideas.” But it is still unclear what will happen if that expression collides with the laws of the island nation-state.

In its “first vote as a collegial body,” the faculty of Yale-NUS College unanimously approved a “Core Statement on Freedom of Expression.” The college is a joint project of Yale University and the National University of Singapore; it will open next fall in Singapore under the presidency of former Yale English professor Pericles Lewis.

“We are firmly committed to the free expression of ideas in all forms—a central tenet of liberal arts education,” the three-sentence statement says. “There are no questions that cannot be asked, no answers that cannot be discussed and debated. This principle is a cornerstone of our institution.”

Yale-NUS College has drawn criticism at Yale and elsewhere because Singapore’s government—which runs the National University—restricts speech and activities that are permitted in the US. Defamation and homosexuality are crimes, for example, with bloggers and journalists subject to prosecution for criticizing the government. The college’s own speech code will ban “defamatory language concerning race or religion,” according to a 2010 agreement (pdf) between Yale and NUS. The chairwoman of the Yale-NUS governing board told an interviewer that the “liberal” in “liberal arts” means “broad, rather than free,” and added: “It’s freedom of thought; I’m not necessarily saying freedom of expression.”

In a Yale Alumni Magazine interview in July, Yale-NUS president Lewis said he expects “a robust political culture on campus,” but “obviously, we will also obey the Singaporean law.” Asked what kind of political expression will and will not be allowed, he responded: “There are gray areas, and we’ll have to face specific questions as they arise.”

Last week, the American Association of University Professors issued an open letter to the Yale community, expressing “growing concern” about “academic freedom and the maintenance of educational standards” at Yale-NUS. This week, twenty-five of Yale-NUS’s 41 faculty members replied with their own open letter to the AAUP, essentially saying: “Hey! Why didn’t you talk to us first?”

“We welcome the AAUP’s interest in our educational mission,” the letter says. “At the same time, we wish to state publicly that no representatives of the AAUP consulted with us, as faculty members and colleagues, about any of our own assessments of, concerns about, and active efforts to promote and secure (i) academic freedom; (ii) the rights of faculty, staff, and students; and (iii) shared faculty governance at Yale-NUS College. In the spirit of collegiality and solidarity . . . we invite the AAUP to be informed of our efforts and to consult with us in the future.”

Koh returning to Yale Law School in January

Photo: Eric Bridiers/US Mission

Photo: Eric Bridiers/US Mission

Former Yale Law dean Harold Hongju Koh, who left in 2009 to serve as top lawyer in President Barack Obama’s State Department, will return to the law school next semester, the Yale Daily News reports.

As Obama begins his second term in January, Koh will be in the classroom, teaching a lecture course on “Foreign Relations and National Security Law” and a seminar called “International Human Rights Law and Policy.”

Those subjects have been Koh’s specialties, both in New Haven and in Washington. As Yale Law dean, he forcefully criticized the administration of President George W. Bush ’68 for torturing suspected terrorists. (”Can the President be Torturer in Chief?” he asked in one paper [pdf].) As State Department lawyer, he forcefully defended the Obama administration’s practice of killing suspected terrorists with drone attacks.

“Harold Koh was thrilled to serve Secretary Clinton and President Obama as State Department legal advisor over the last four years. But his life is teaching, and he is ready to start the next chapter,” a senior State Department official told a Foreign Policy reporter.