AirTalk for August 24, 2011

Mercer 20506

Should you care about DSK? Not according to the French

Former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is off the hook for the alleged sexual assault of hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo. A New York Judge dismissed the criminal case against him yesterday, although he still faces a civil suit filed by Diallo’s lawyer earlier this month. Now the French are feeling vindicated. According to an article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times the French papers are full of support for Strauss-Kahn, with a healthy dose of America-shaming to boot. They say DSK (as he’s known there) was a victim of a justice system that’s eager to convict people before the evidence is in. The French also say that a politician’s personal life is no one’s business but their own and Americans have outsized expectation of public officials. Are the French right? If we take this case at face value, and Strauss-Kahn is not-guilty, aren’t his actions his own business? Or does it call his judgment into question? When a politician engages in secret sexual conduct, could it put them in a position that possibly threatens national security? Do Americans have too high expectations of our public figures?
Mercer 20489

TSA chat downs – are they effective?

The Israelis have been using it successfully for decades to weed out terrorist suspects but until now behavioral profiling has only been used occasionally at U.S. airports. Last week Boston’s Logan International Airport started requiring every passenger to undergo a brief conversation or a “chat down” with a security official who is trained to spot suspicious behavior. The traveler is asked a number of simple questions like where are you going, for what reason and for how long. The security officer is trained to notice various non-verbal cues or “tells” that may indicate that the passenger is lying or hiding something. Those clues might include profuse sweating, eye movements and other involuntary behaviors and physiological reactions that people can’t avoid when they are trying to conceal information. Some legal experts express doubt that TSA officers can be trained in a relatively short time to recognize the right clues. These critics say it’s difficult to sort out real terrorists from those people who are just nervous about travelling and training low level TSA officers to skillfully recognize bad guys in 30 seconds will be extremely challenging. But TSA officials respond that the goal is not to identify terrorists but pinpoint high-risk passenger for further screening. What do you think of behavioral profiling? Do you think it will work in U.S. airports where millions of passengers are travelling through? Does this practice raise civil rights concerns?
Mercer 20504

UCLA law professor opposes $10 million Milken deal

Last month, the School of Law at UCLA. announced with fanfare a $10 million gift from Lowell Milken. The donation would establish a business law institute in his name. Philanthropic works from Lowell and his brother Michael aren't uncommon in this community, but this one is being described as a gift horse by some. In particular, a distinguished law professor at UCLA., Lynn Stout, is going public with her displeasure. "I think it’s somewhat distressing that so few people seem to be aware of Lowell and Michael Milken’s business history," Stout wrote in a letter to the leadership of the University of California. She is referring, in part, to the fact that Lowell Milken was barred permanently from the securities industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as the New York Stock Exchange during the "junk bonds" era of the late 1980s. Supporters of Milken say he was never found guilty of anything and his other accomplishments hold greater weight. Just yesterday on AirTalk, we chewed over the tough financial challenges facing universities. Philanthropists are being asked to contribute more and more. What should inform the decision of who UCLA accepts money from? How squeaky clean does a donor have to be? Is this a different case because of the type of institute the donation is funding -- a business law school?
Mercer 20495
Several new studies have revealed some key differences in how men and women experience sleep. For instance, compared to men, women typically fall asleep faster, sleep longer and deeper, and have fewer instances of waking up during the night. Also, when subjects in an experiment mimicked the effects of sleep deprivation, women performed better than men on assigned tasks. Researchers attribute this to the fact that women are able to have more deep sleep on a regular basis. Paradoxically, women still complain more than men about not getting enough rest. New mothers, who are customarily awoken by their children, remark on their lack of sleep more than men even if the fathers are the ones waking up more throughout the night. Another seeming idiosyncrasy found in these studies is that, even though sleeping with a partner leads to less deep sleep and more disruptions, people tend to be happier with their sleep history if they are sharing a bed. However, body clocks are not synchronous between men and women, with those of males being six minutes longer than those of females. Over a series of days, those six minutes compound exponentially, causing the schedules of both people to be drastically out of sync. Is the comfort of another human being more satisfying than the sleep one receives alone? Why is it that women, who sleep better than men, tend to complain more about not getting enough? How can this gender gap be crossed?
Find an archived Episode: