Two Supreme Court Experts Warn About Impact of Partisan Nomination Fights

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Two experts on the United States Supreme Court expressed concerns Thursday during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Marquette Law School that the level of partisanship in confirmation processes for justices is causing damage to the court itself.

David A. Strauss, the Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, said, “Things have become a lot more partisan in a way that I think is really damaging for the court as an institution.”

Strauss said, that, even though partisanship has long been a part of confirming court nominees, among senators overall, “there was a consensus that we really have to kind of make sure that we take care of the court.” That meant approving well-qualified candidates who would be respected and do their jobs well, with less attention paid to their partisanship. That has eroded, he said.

“I think it has taken a turn for the much more partisan,” Strauss said. ”What’s really troubling about it . . . Once that happens, it is very hard to dig yourself out of it.” Continue reading “Two Supreme Court Experts Warn About Impact of Partisan Nomination Fights”

A Milwaukee Native Describes His Work as the City’s Police Chief

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Ed Flynn was a complete outsider to Milwaukee. The city’s police chief from 2008 to 2018, he never lived in Milwaukee before he became chief, he left Milwaukee as soon as he was done, and some people questioned how much he was connected to the life of the city as a whole while he was serving as chief.

Alfonso  Morales, Flynn’s successor, is a complete insider to Milwaukee. Born in the city, grew up on N. 33rd St., graduated from Milwaukee Tech High School, as it was then called (it’s now Bradley Tech). After graduating from Carroll College, he became a Milwaukee police officer and rose through the ranks until he was named chief in February 2018.

Flynn appeared several times at “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” programs at Marquette Law School. Morales was an “On the Issues” guest for the first time on Thursday (Sept. 13, 2018). The differences between them in personal styles, in priorities, and in connecting with the community were clear. Continue reading “A Milwaukee Native Describes His Work as the City’s Police Chief”

Tommy Thompson Describes Lessons from His “Journey of a Lifetime”

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There are few people in recent Wisconsin history – maybe all Wisconsin history – who could work a crowd better than Tommy Thompson, and he showed he still has that ability in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Wednesday that was interesting, insightful, provocative and entertaining.

Elected four times, he was governor of Wisconsin from 1987 to 2001, followed by four years as health and human services secretary in the administration of President George W Bush, Thompson, now 76, spoke on the day after his autobiography, Tommy: My Journey of a Lifetime, written along with journalist Doug Moe, was released officially. Continue reading “Tommy Thompson Describes Lessons from His “Journey of a Lifetime””

Partisan Divides Are Vivid in New Law School Poll Results

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, Political Processes & Rhetoric, PublicLeave a comment» on Partisan Divides Are Vivid in New Law School Poll Results

“If there’s a subtitle to today’s presentation, it is partisan differences.”

That comment from Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, as a new round of poll results was released Wednesday at Eckstein Hall, spotlighted a striking and important aspect to public opinion in Wisconsin (and probably across the United States). In short, there are two different worlds of perception on what is going on when it comes to politics and policy.

Start with the most obvious example, opinions of President Donald Trump. Overall, 42 percent of registered voters polled in Wisconsin approved of Trump’s job performance and 50 percent disapproved. In polling a month ago, it was 44 percent and 50 percent. Since Trump took office, those numbers have not varied much.

But break it down by partisanship and there’s a canyon of difference. Among Republicans, 86 percent approve of how Trump is doing as president and 8 percent disapprove. Among Democrats, 3 percent approve and 93 percent disapprove. Continue reading “Partisan Divides Are Vivid in New Law School Poll Results”

The Developing Shape of August Primaries Comes into View in New Poll Results

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The results of the Marquette Law School Poll, released on Wednesday, June 20, showed both how long a time and how short a time two months is as an election approaches.

The primary on Aug. 14 will decide which of a large field of Democrats will race incumbent Republican Scott Walker in the November election for governor and which of two Republican candidates will face incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin in the election for a US Senate seat.

How long is it until Aug. 14? The poll, conducted through telephone interviews with 800 registered voters statewide from June 13 to 17, found that large majorities said they did not know enough about or did not yet have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of every one of the candidates in the top spotlighted contests. The figures ranged from 61 percent to 94 percent. Large portions of the public haven’t yet felt the election is close enough to require a lot of attention.

On the other hand, now that the clock is under two months, interest in the poll results, including news coverage of the findings, is increasing. While the general public may not have tuned in strongly yet to the campaigns, those who are involved know time is running short. Increasingly active campaigning and advertising almost surely will lead to more voters knowing the people running for office by the time Aug. 14 arrives. Continue reading “The Developing Shape of August Primaries Comes into View in New Poll Results”

Facts and History — But No Predictions — as Program Sets the Political Scene

Posted on Categories Lubar Center, Marquette Law School Poll, Political Processes & Rhetoric, PublicLeave a comment» on Facts and History — But No Predictions — as Program Sets the Political Scene

Set aside (for the moment) the poll numbers, the partisanship, and the passion and analyze the facts and data.

That was the goal of an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program on Thursday, June 14, at Marquette Law School that was a bit unusual. How so? The guests were Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, and John Johnson, research fellow for the Law Schools Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, but, unlike the large majority of such sessions, particularly involving Franklin, they didn’t have any fresh poll results.

Instead, the goal, as Franklin put it, was to look at the lay of the political landscape, both in Wisconsin and beyond. Results from four special elections so far in 2018 for legislative seats in Wisconsin and from the statewide election of a Supreme Court justice offered the opening insights on current Wisconsin voting patterns. But the discussion expanded to encompass results from more than 300 elections nationwide since the 2016 presidential election and to look at history going back as far as the 1860s.

Franklin and Johnson showed the degree to which Democrats generally had gained ground since 2016 in election results in Wisconsin and nationwide. But Franklin looked at historical trends that show how the party of a sitting president usually loses ground in mid-term elections. What is shaping up for this fall’s elections may (or may not) be more in line with historical patterns than many people think.

One interesting insight: On average, Franklin said, the opposition party has gained 24 seats in the US House of Representatives in mid-term elections. And for the Democrats to gain control of the House this year, they need to gain 24 seats. That means it’s anyone’s guess which party will have the majority in the House after November. Or, as Franklin put it, “uncertainty is the order of the day.”

Franklin looked at the history of the impact on mid-term election of factors such as a president’s popularity, change in the national gross domestic product, unemployment rates, and the results of polling that asks people a generic question (with no candidate specified) about which party they hope will win the upcoming election. Based on history, some of those indicators suggest good prospects for Democrats – and some don’t.

The four special legislative elections in Wisconsin this year, as well as the Supreme Court election (assuming you assign partisan interpretation to it), each showed Republicans doing worse and Democrats doing better than they did in recent elections, Franklin and Johnson showed.

Some suggest that the low turnout in those races reduces the weight that should be put on such trends. Johnson analyzed results of special elections compared to general elections broadly and found that the differences in outcomes between the low turnout and high turnout elections were not as great as many people assumed.

But Franklin said a shift toward Democrats in the legislative elections in Wisconsin this fall wouldn’t necessarily mean changes in which party controls each legislative house in Madison. For example, few legislative elections in recent years have been settled by five percentage points or less, he said, so a five point shift toward Democrats might not change the winning party in many cases.

The first round of results for the Marquette Law School Poll since March is set to be released on Wednesday (June 20). It will include results for the Democratic primary for governor and the Republican primary for a US Senate seat. The pace of campaigning (and polling) will accelerate through the coming months.

But at this point, Franklin said, it was good to pause and look at the bigger and historical perspective.

“The main thing I want to leave you with is uncertainty (about what lies ahead), but I want you to appreciate why we are uncertain and how these different indicators are pushing in different directions,” Franklin said.

To view video of the one-hour conversation, click here. To get information on the poll release program at Eckstein Hall on June 20, click here.

 

 

Reporter Describes Reporting Behind Story That Sparked the #metoo Movement

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Do you think anybody’s going to care?

New York Times reporter Megan Twohey recalled asking that question during a cab ride with her reporting partner, Jodi Kantor, just before a demanding investigative story they had been working on was to appear in print. The two had been told they would never get the story in the paper. The two had been told few would care if it did appear.

During an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Friday (May 11), Twohey described what led up to printing their story on Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s record of sexually abusive misconduct. Their first story ran at the top of the Times’ front page in October, 2017.

Other journalists had set out to do publish stories on Weinstein’s long-rumored treatment of women. None had succeeded in getting something published. Women who are victims of such treatment are often reluctant to talk publicly, and that was especially true with Weinstein, who had great power and influence in the entertainment industry. Furthermore, Weinstein had fought strongly against such stories being published. Kantor and Twohey were told he would intimidate the Times into withholding publication.

Twohey said the two realized they had to build a case based on evidence that went beyond he said-she said versions of what happened in specific incidents. They were able to do that using materials such as corporate documents and records of out-of-court settlements. She said the Times set rigorous standards for what could be put in print.

Twohey said that once the story appeared, she and Kantor were so involved in follow-up work, they didn’t pay much attention to the impact in the first few days. But the impact was huge – their work played an important part in sparking the #metoo movement that has made harassment and abuse of women in the work place a national issue. Twohey called it a time of reckoning for those who have been involved in harassing women.

Among other recognitions, Twohey and Kantor have won a Pulitzer Prize and been named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in America. They have signed a contract to write a book and an option on movie rights to their story. Twohey was in Milwaukee to be honored by the Milwaukee Press Club at a banquet.

Gousha asked Twohey what it was about the Weinstein story that triggered such strong reactions. Other prominent figures, such as television commentator Bill O’Reilly, already had lost their jobs over similar allegations.

Twohey said a big factor seemed to be that in this case, the perpetrator, as powerful as he was, was not as famous as some of the victims who agreed to speak on the record. Twohey said the fact that such well-known movie figures were willing to say they had been victimized and wanted justice motivated  women across the country to speak up about their own experiences.

“The real moral horror (about the Weinstein situation) . . . was that he was able away with this for 40 years,” Twohey said. What she called “the complicity machine” in which Weinstein’s aides, associates, and friends protected  him was just as important, she said. She and Kantor did a follow-up story on the systemic failures and assistance that allowed Weinstein to intimidate people into staying silent.

“It was remarkable at every turn what we uncovered,” she said, when it came to the extent of sexual harassment problems in many different settings. Twohey, who has a 14-month-old daughter, said she hopes the revelations reported by the Times and other  news organizations will mean her daughter will not find herself years from now in workplaces where there are such problems.

“I think this has been a big teaching moment for families,” Twohey said.

To watch the hour-long conversation, click here.

To watch Gousha’s  interview with Twohey on the “Upfront with Mike Gousha” television program, click here.  

 

 

New Marquette Lawyer Celebrates Eckstein Hall and the Man Who Designed It

Posted on Categories International Law & Diplomacy, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee Area Project, PublicLeave a comment» on New Marquette Lawyer Celebrates Eckstein Hall and the Man Who Designed It

Image of Ralph Jackson on the Marquette Lawyer CoverHas it been 10 years already? Yes, the tenth anniversary is at hand for the groundbreaking for Eckstein Hall on May 22, 2008.

How have things worked out? Anyone who spends time—and especially anyone who spends a lot of time—in the home of Marquette Law School knows the answer: Very well.

The new issue of Marquette Lawyer magazine marks the anniversary of the start of building Eckstein Hall and celebrates the building’s success with two featured pieces, following an introduction by the dean including the famous photo of Tory Hill from the day of the groundbreaking.

One entry is a profile of Ralph Jackson, the Boston architect who was the lead figure in designing the building. Jackson, now retired, has a powerful personal story, rising from modest roots to national prominence as an architect. The story, “How Ralph Jackson Found His Voice,” may be read by clicking here.

The second feature is a photo essay on a day in the life of Eckstein Hall. The 22 pages of beautiful photos illustrate many of the facets of the identity of Marquette Law School as seen on one day, Nov. 14, 2017. The photo essay may be viewed by clicking here.

The new magazine includes other valuable reading, including:

“International Human Rights Law: An Unexpected Threat to Peace,” an edited text of the Boden Lecture delivered by Ingrid Wuerth, who holds the Helen Strong Curry Chair in International Law at Vanderbilt University. Read it by clicking here.

“Migration Challenges: Trends in People’s Movement to and from the Milwaukee Area and Wisconsin Illuminate Important Issues,” a piece in which John D. Johnson, research fellow with the Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, and Charles Franklin, the Law School’s professor of law and public policy, analyze population trends. It may be read by clicking here.

“An Unveiling and a Blessing.” A portrait of St. Edmund Campion was unveiled at a ceremony on October 25, 2017, and now hangs in the Chapel of St. Edmund Campion in Eckstein Hall. An image of the portrait and the text of remarks at the ceremony—variously by the Hon. Paul D. Clement, Dean Joseph D. Kearney, Rev. Thomas S. Anderson, S.J., and the portrait’s artist, Henry Wingate—can be found by clicking here.

The “From the Podium” section includes texts of speeches at the Columbus Day Banquet of the Wisconsin Chapter of the Justinian Society of Lawyers on October 13, 2017, by the three honorees: State Public Defender Kelli S. Thompson, Dean Kearney, and Judge William Brash III. The section also includes “The Person on the Other Side of the Table,” the text of remarks from Michael J. Gonring, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, upon receiving the Faithful Servant Award of the St. Thomas More Lawyers Society. Read the section by clicking here.

The Class Notes section, which may be read by clicking here, includes entries about Jessica Poliner, L’06, who coauthored a book with advice for improving gender equity in the workplace, and about Rachel Lindsay, L’11, who gained fame by appearing on the television programs The Bachelor and The Bachlorette, but who continues her work as a lawyer in Dallas.

To view the entire magazine, click here.

California Supreme Court Justice Calls for Improving Access to Legal Services

Posted on Categories Legal Profession, Pro Bono, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on California Supreme Court Justice Calls for Improving Access to Legal Services

Goodwin Liu, a justice of the California Supreme Court, came to Marquette Law School Thursday to be a judge of the Jenkins Honor Moot Court Competition Final Round. The widely-known justice also brought with him a fascinating personal story and provocative ideas for lawyers and law students on several subjects, presented during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall. I encourage you to listen to the program by clicking here. This blog item will on two of the messages Liu delivered.

Liu, then a professor at the University of California-Berkeley law school, was nominated in 2010 by President Barack Obama to be a federal appeals court judge. The nomination drew strong opposition from Republicans in the US Senate, largely because of controversial things Liu had written. After the nomination was held up for more than a year, Liu withdrew. He was appointed by California Gov. Jerry Brown to that state’s Supreme Court in 2011.

Did Liu regret the things he had written? Liu said there were  some specific things he would handle differently in retrospect, but overall, he was not sorry he had taken strong stands. He urged the law students in the audience not to fear taking positions on things they care about.

Liu said, “You should not just kind of live your life in an exceedingly cautious or antiseptic way, never saying anything, never doing anything that could cause someone else to disagree with you. No. That’s not a good way to live. You have to think about (and) remember why you came to law school — what were the things that motivated you – and, within reasonable ethical and prudent bounds, pursue those things. Because you’re not going to be happy if you don’t do that. . . .  or do anything. . . .

“I had a friend who told me a nice quote once, which was, ‘no one ever goes to his grave seeking an epitaph that reads, “He kept his options open.” I mean, that is no way to live.”

Gousha asked Liu if the nation was in a situation where there two justice systems, one for those who can afford lawyers and the other for those who can’t.

Liu said that was one of the biggest issues facing America. He spoke of the principle that everyone should have equal access to the legal system.

“The principle is an important one .We are so far away from that principle overall in society. Most of us, myself included, do lots of important transactions every year or every couple years where we probably should have a lawyer look things over. Did you ever buy a house? Did you ever read all of those documents? My guess is probably not, but you just signed a lot of your life away in those documents. Wouldn’t it be useful to make sure all those things were done right? This is a big thing.

“Two piece of concluding thought there. One is, of course, that I’ll offer an exhortation to the lawyers and the law students here that doing work for people who can’t afford legal services is so important. No matter whatever you do in your career, that has to be one of the things that you do.  . . . Especially for the younger people here, it is one of the things that will actually give you the greatest skill-building types of opportunities. . . .

“The other piece however, is more fundamental, which I think those of you who are in the public policy realm might give some thought to. And that is (that) law is a strange profession in so far as it is not a differentiated profession as, for example, the health care industry is. Not that our health care industry is any great paragon of success. However, it is the case that when you go to seek health care, it isn’t thar you only go and see a doctor, a physician. We have differentiated roles up and down the health care system. We have nurses, we have nurse’s assistants, we have physician’s assistants, we have technicians, we have all kinds of people where we are triaging your needs to the lowest-cost provider and allocating in an efficient way functions up and down the system and differentiating those functions up and down the system.

“In the legal system, we don’t have that. We have lawyers and nobody else, right? And it doesn’t seem to me that it’s absolutely necessary to have just this one model where, for many things like an eviction or a simple family law matter or immigration matter, whatever it , a lot of things are just about  navigating complicated forms or figuring out what building to go to, or how to do a process.

“There are a lot of roles there that could be filled by people who will not be as fancy as all of you will be when you graduate from this august institution, right? If we could bring the cost of those services down by having different kinds of roles to help people navigate the legal system, why, I think that would be a great service.

“The analogy I would give is: The cost of accessing this kind of basic legal service should be no greater—we should have a model where it’s no greater — than the cost of getting a plumber. If your toilet doesn’t work, you’re going to get it fixed and you’re going to pay the price of a plumber to get it fixed.

“Well, shouldn’t we have at least the same bargain available for very important things in people’s lives, like whether you’re buying a house, whether you’re negotiating a custody agreement, whether you’re trying to get special education for your kids, whatever it is? These are at least as important as your toilet. And so we need to have a market in which access to those kinds of things can be priced accordingly, so average people – average people, I’m not talking about low income people, I’m talking about average people –can afford them. . . .

“I think this is an idea whose time has come. And I think also, for the younger generation, technology is going to be a big part of this, too. Law firms remain brick and mortar enterprises in an age when most  legal services can be done pretty much at a home computer in many instances.“

Liu said that some say that the legal profession resists such ideas as a way to defend the profession. “I think that kind of mentality has a shelf life, because there is a greater and greater demand in our society for fair access to legal services.” Liu said. “As the world becomes more complicated, more and more people are going to need this and we as part of the legal profession should be part of the solution, not a hindrance to it.”

 

Conference on Chicago Megacity and the Great Lakes Covers a Big Waterfront

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Great Lakes water collaboration, Great Lakes water wars, Great Lakes water problems, Great Lakes water improvement, the Great Lakes of today, the Great Lakes of one hundred years from now – all of these were focal points Tuesday of a half-day conference at Marquette Law School titled “Lake Michigan and the Chicago Megacity in the 21st Century.”

The Marquette Water Law and Policy Initiative and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cosponsored a conference focusing on the Chicago megacity – southeastern Wisconsin, northeastern Illinois, and northwestern Indiana – in 2012 and a conference on public attitudes about the region in 2015. During the same period, the Law School has developed a water law and policy initiative, led by Professor David Strifling.

In opening remarks on Tuesday, Joseph D. Kearney, dean of Marquette Law School, said the conference brought together the Law School’s megacity and water policy interests and was “a continuing step in our efforts to become a leading center for the exploration of water law and policy issues.” Strifling and David Haynes, Solutions for Wisconsin Editor of the Journal Sentinel, were the principal organizers of the conference.

A sampling of the discussion:

Great Lakes water collaboration: Randy Conner, water commissioner of the City of Chicago, said he thought there was a good level of collaboration among the water authorities in the region, but there could be more. There was general agreement that working together on issues related to protecting the lakes and using them wisely was good — although ultimately almost every community has its own specific needs. (When it came to building collaboration, there may have been some tangential benefits of the conference. After the session ended, Conner and Jennifer Gonda, superintendent of the Milwaukee Water Works, were seen in the Zilber Forum of Eckstein Hall having a lengthy one-on-one conversation.)

Great Lakes water wars: Peter Annin gave a keynote address that focused on battles going back more than a century and continuing until this moment about diversions of water from the Great Lakes. Annin is co-director of the Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation and director of environmental communication at Northland College in Ashland, WI. He also is author of a 2007 book, The Great Lakes Water Wars, which he is updating.

“The Chicago megacity is the front line in the Great Lakes water wars,” he said. “I think we’re just going to continue to see more of it.” He recounted the controversy over using Lake Michigan water to supply much of Waukesha, Wis., and the current debate over whether the Foxconn factory planned for Racine County should be allowed to use millions of gallons a day of Lake Michigan water. The planned factory site straddles the boundary of the Lake Michigan watershed. (Click here to read a piece Annin wrote about the Foxconn issue for the Journal Sentinel.)

Great Lakes water problems: Molly Flanagan, vice president-policy of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, based in Chicago, said a proposal to cut out the US Environmental Protection Agency from oversight of ballast dumping by ocean-going ships when they are in the Great Lakes is before Congress now. Ballast dumping has been the way some harmful invasive species have entered the Lakes. Giving the US Coast Guard sole oversight would harm the fight against such invasions, she said. Dan Egan, senior water policy fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and author of the 2017 book, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, amplified on her concerns, saying that the only thing the Coast Guard cared about in the water was sailors.  (Click here to read a Journal Sentinel story by Egan on the issue.)

Great Lakes water improvement: While Egan sounded warnings about several major concerns about the state and future of the Great Lakes, he said things had in some important ways improved in recent years when it came to water quality, use, and recreational opportunities. He contrasted the low use of Bradford Beach along the lakefront in Milwaukee years ago, when there were more problems with things such as dead fish, sewer overflows, and algae, with the large crowds of people using the beach in recent years.

The Great Lakes of today: A panel discussion on the Great Lakes as a tool for economic development in the megacity region included descriptions by economic development advocates from Milwaukee and Chicago not only of the advantages of siting the nation’s top water technology cluster near an abundant supply of water, but the need to use the water “wisely and carefully,” as Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council, based in Milwaukee, put it. That call was underscored by Bob Schwartz, senior policy advisor to the consulate general of Israel to the Midwest, who talked about the world-leading technologies related to water that have been pursued in Israel and about avenues for increasing involvement between Israel and the Midwest on water-related work.

The Great Lakes of a hundred years from now: Michael R. Lovell, president of Marquette University, recounted to the audience a conversation he had several years ago with the head of Kikkoman Foods, the Japanese company known for its soy sauce. Kikkoman located a plant in Walworth County, southwest of Milwaukee. The Kikkoman leader said one reason the company did that was because it believed that one hundred years from now, the population base of the United States would be focused in the Midwest. A big reason will be the value of water. Another reason was “to make great soy sauce, you need great water.” Lovell urged the participants in the conference to think about what should be done to see that water is available in good supply and quality a century from now.

Video of the conference may be viewed by clicking here.

 

Give Attention to Concerns About Privacy Close to Home, Author Suggests

Posted on Categories Privacy Rights, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Give Attention to Concerns About Privacy Close to Home, Author Suggests

Yes, the furor over data from millions of Facebook users being used for political purposes is important. But just driving down the street raises important privacy issues also. And whether you can make sense of the Facebook issues, you could and probably should give attention to high-tech monitoring of your daily life.

That was the thrust of an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Thursday in Eckstein Hall featuring Cyrus Farivar, author of a new book, Habeas Data: Privacy vs. the Rise of Surveillance Tech. Farivar is also a regular contributor to Ars Technica, which covers news related to technology.

Gousha introduced Farivar by saying that talking about technology and privacy is “a conversation that is perfect for our times.” In the week when great attention focused on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying at length before congressional committees, Farivar agreed. Continue reading “Give Attention to Concerns About Privacy Close to Home, Author Suggests”

Playwright Aims to Prod Thinking About the Aftermath of Ferguson

Posted on Categories Public, Race & Law, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Playwright Aims to Prod Thinking About the Aftermath of Ferguson

Dael Orlandersmith says she does not have the right to speak for the people who were affected when a police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on a street in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9, 2014.

But she can speak about them, and she does want people to think about themselves, their own communities, and the issues that were raised by the Ferguson incident and its powerful aftermath. The St. Louis Repertory Theater invited Orlandersmith, a well-known poet, playwright, and performer from New York City, to create a play focused on Ferguson. That led her to interview dozens of people in Ferguson and to write “Until the Flood,” a play that includes eight characters she sees as composites of people she interviewed.

Orlandersmith is currently performing “Until the Flood” as a one-woman show at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. She described her approach to the play – and more broadly, to her artistic work – in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Thursday. Continue reading “Playwright Aims to Prod Thinking About the Aftermath of Ferguson”