Notre Dame ReSources

Author: Dennis Brown

The following Notre Dame faculty are available for additional comment on these people and events in the news:
p. Bombings : Notre Dame anthropologist Rev. Patrick Gaffney, C.S.C. , a scholar of the cultures, politics, religions and peoples of East Africa, says the recent bombings of the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salam “represent the further escalation of a pattern of international violence that is difficult to categorize. While East and Central Africa face considerable regional instability, the targets of these attacks suggest no link to local tensions. Nevertheless, the actual victims of these assaults are overwhelmingly unsuspecting Kenyans and Tanzanians.” Father Gaffney says he sympathizes with the U.S. government’s insistence that security measures be enhanced, but adds that “the root causes of this horrendous violence must also be considered and addressed. The future safety of Americans abroad and innocent bystanders in the vicinity of American compounds ultimately depends more upon policies which reflect consistent respect for human rights, dedication to nonviolent conflict resolution, and the implementation of effective human development than upon proclamations of righteous anger from Washington and the transformation of its official foreign missions into fortresses.” Father Gaffney has visited the East African region often, not only for his anthropological research, but also to teach as a seminary professor in Uganda and to serve as a member of a 1996 U.N. commission investigating human rights violations in Burundi. *Contact: Michael Garvey, 219-631-7367;

  • p. Clinton : The various options open to President Clinton before the grand jury Monday include one that has received little if any notice, says Douglas Kmiec , professor of law at Notre Dame. “Few people seem to realize that it may be possible for the president, under 18 USC 1623(d), to recant a false declaration,” says Kmiec. “He then would have a shot at an affirmative defense to any perjury indictment in the Paula Jones matter. If he pursues this, one would expect the president to go on national television to make some sort of mea culpa as well, and then, say ’let’s get back to work.’ Unless Ken Starr has real evidence of obstruction, this would likely end the matter and leave the independent counsel empty-handed.” *Contact: Dennis Brown, 219-631-7367; brown.18@nd.ed
  • p. Catholic theologians : Pope John Paul II’s recent apostolic letter, Ad tuendam fidem (“To Defend the Faith”) admonishes leaders and teachers of the Catholic Church against theological dissent and warns that Catholic theologians who publicly challenge “definitive” church teachings “may be punished with a just penalty.” According to Rev. Richard A. McCormick, S.J. , John A. O’Brien Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics at Notre Dame, the letter represents a “shift in ecclesial climate ? from persuasion to coercion.” In the August 14 edition of Commonweal magazine, Father McCormick notes that Pope John Paul II’s predecessor, Pope Paul VI, “wanted people to be ‘convaincus, pas vaincus’ (‘convinced, not conquered’). This is no longer our climate.” According to Father McCormick, this new, coercive church atmosphere “threatens ministry, sours the laity and divides the church ? the very opposite of what the pope intended.” *Contact: Michael Garvey, 219-631-7367;
  • p. Credit unions : The House’s final approval last week of legislation that loosens the criteria for credit union membership is notable for what is missing, says Elizabeth Schiltz , associate professor of law at Notre Dame. “Opening the membership of credit unions to different groups with different common bonds isn’t revolutionary,” Schiltz says.E"It merely gives legal sanction to what the National Credit Union Administration has been permitting for the past 15 years. The brilliance of credit union lobbyists is that they effectively kept all the public rhetoric focused on this non-issue.EMeanwhile, little has been said of the more controversial aspects of the legislation ? whether credit unions should retain their exemptions from paying taxes and compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Credit unions have been expanding in membership and asset size for years, and they also have become increasingly involved in making loans to businesses, in addition to consumers.EThe legislation just passed by Congress will accelerate these trends. At some point, these changes in the nature of the credit union industry can’t help but undermine the original justifications for the exemptions from taxes and from complying with the CRA.E Has that point arrived yet?E The credit union lobbyists managed to keep that question effectively off the agenda ofE public debate on this issue." *Contact: Dennis Brown, 219-631-7367;
  • p. Social Security : Efforts to privatize Social Security in hope of winning better returns on investments are short-sighted, according to Teresa Ghilarducci , associate professor of economics at Notre Dame. “President Clinton is right when he says that financial markets gyrate too much for individual investments to be a secure foundation for retirement incomes,” she says. “Investing Social Security in the stock market in the form of individual accounts is a shaky idea that will surely wither away the next time the market dips. Wall Street stands to make billions of dollars in management fees if individual accounts replace Social Security, but ordinary workers would lose important security. Privatization has not worked in Chile and it won’t work in the USA.” *Contact: Dennis Brown, 219-631-7367;
  • p. Betelgeuse : A Notre Dame astronomer has developed a new model that details the structure and life span of Betelgeuse, a giant red star that is among the brightest in the winter sky. Grant Matthews , professor of physics, and Notre Dame senior Gregory Herczeg compiled the latest data on Betelgeuse (pronounced Bay-tel-Juice) from the Hubble Space Telescope and inserted it into a computer simulation. They found that the star is roiling with huge eruptions of hot material and is rapidly proceeding toward its eventual explosion into a supernova. “Our model tells us exactly where Betelgeuse is at in its evolution, so we can say what is going to happen next with it,” Matthews told the South Bend Tribune. “When we put in all this new data, we found that Betelgeuse is 16 times the mass of the sun and that it stepped up into its red giant phase only a few thousand years ago.” Matthews’ model indicates the star will erupt into a supernova in slightly more than 1 million years from now, or, as he puts it, “in just an eye blink.” *Contact: Dennis Brown, 219-631-7367;
  • p. Prepare for peace : The old maxim “if you want peace, prepare for war” should be replaced with more effective preparations for peace, a Notre Dame political scientist writes in the new book “World Security: Challenges for a New Century.” Robert Johansen , interim director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, argues in a chapter of the book titled “Building World Security” that the prospects for peace can be enhanced by strengthening international norms and institutions against war and by eliminating conditions that give rise to violence. A world policy designed to serve the human interest and enhance the security of all nations can be based on five basic principles, he says: reciprocity, equity, environmental sustainability, democratization and demilitarization. *Contact: Dennis Brown, 219-631-7367;

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