Is U.S. Diplomacy Under Friendly Fire?

After six months of the Trump administration, America’s professional diplomats are reportedly “desperate” for a foreign policy — or even for something to do. They complain that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has walled himself off from the diplomatic corps and that he’s being walled off from the White House. Political scientist Peter Feaver, a former national security adviser to Presidents Clinton and Bush, talks about the concerns.

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Enrollment Impeded For Undocumented Kids in NC

Despite federal laws that guarantee access to public education for undocumented children, the majority of school districts in North Carolina are impeding enrollment, a new report from the Children’s Law Clinic at Duke University finds. “We hope that school districts will use this report to review their enrollment practices to ensure that they are compliant with the law and are welcoming to immigrant children,” says Jane Wettach, director of the clinic.

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Why Tax Reform Should Address Inequities in Health Subsidies

“Realistically, the unraveling of Obamacare Exchanges and the pyramid of perverse incentives created under the Medicaid expansion will have to be addressed,” writes Chris Conover, a research scholar at the Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research. “In the course of addressing tax reform, Republicans have a golden opportunity to take a bold step that make the task of each easier. I am hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.”

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Bills in NC, Congress Target Companies That Boycott Israel

“The government has the power to control its own message, for example, by deciding which programs it wants to subsidize in the first place,” says law professor Joseph Blocher. “That’s what’s called government speech, and one might argue that HB 161 is just a matter of North Carolina choosing not to support certain viewpoints with which it disagrees.”

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School Segregation Is Back, Big Time

Economist Hugh Macartney and a colleague published a paper this month in National Bureau of Economic Research illustrating that local school boards can do quite a bit to fight back against racial segregation. Getting involved with school board elections — voting in them, volunteering in campaigns or even running for office — is an excellent way for those interested in fighting racial inequality to make a difference on a local level, they found.

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Donald Trump’s State Of Mind, And Ours

Psychiatry professor emeritus Allen Frances weighs in on the debate over mental health professionals publicly assessing President Trump: “Trump’s psychology is far too obvious to be interesting. You don’t have to be a psychoanalyst to understand Trump. He’s the most transparent human being who ever lived. Giving it a name doesn’t explain it or change it.”

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Bringing Back the Draft

Peter Feaver, a political science professor and author of ­numerous works on national security, says the argument for the draft is a backdoor approach to ending the current types of interventionist wars we are fighting. “That is an argument about American grand strategy masquerading as being about the all-volunteer force,” he says. Feaver is skeptical that the ­American military might find itself in such a ­predicament as to need large numbers of troops from a draft, noting the “U.S. military has the wherewithal to do most of the missions needed.”

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Justices Felt Trump Travel Ban ‘Too Restrictive’

At a Duke Law School event in Washington, D.C., Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg  said the court decided that close relationships include grandparents and other relatives. The administration initially left them off its list of family members who would not be covered by President Donald Trump’s 90-day travel ban.

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Trump White House Tests Capacity For Outrage

The president signed his hotly contested travel ban on visitors from selected Muslim-majority countries at the Pentagon and publicly opined about how troops had voted for him and complained about the news media in front of military audiences. The comment was a mistake, says political scientist Peter Feaver. “While there is a legitimate role for senior brass to explain military affairs to the public, it is not good for civil-military relations to have the military viewed as a special interest group pleading for bigger budgets.”

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Congress And Big Self-Driving Car Companies

“I do think the chumminess is due to industry pressure,” says Missy Cummings, a former naval pilot who runs Duke’s Humans and Autonomy Laboratory. “Companies are pouring significant money into lobbying efforts for both sides, so I think you are seeing this influence in how quickly these bills are being pushed through.”

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New History of The Right an Intellectual Flashpoint

A phalanx of largely libertarian critics has waged an online battle against historian Nancy MacLean over her book, while her sympathizers call the response a Koch-backed smear campaign. At the heart of the book’s purported plot to threaten democracy is a Nobel-winning economist whose ideas MacLean characterizes as “diabolical” and “wicked”: James McGill Buchanan.

Read More in The Chronicle of Higher Education

President Trump Wades Into Venezuelan Row

Donald Trump has threatened to take strong and swift action against Venezuela if President Nicolas Maduro imposes constitutional changes. That “signals a change in U.S. thinking,” says Fuqua professor Patrick Duddy, a former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela who now directs Duke’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. “Today’s announcement suggests Washington is considering much broader sanctions.”

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