Prof. travels to Iraq to teach

first_imgA Notre Dame political science professor had the unique opportunity last month to teach students about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in a place where such terms are foreign and difficult to grasp.Professor Vincent Muñoz traveled to the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani (AUI-S) to teach students about the principles behind the United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence.“The ideas were new and not familiar. They really wanted to know what it means to have the right to life, the right to liberty,” Muñoz said. AUI-S, a private university, opened in 2007 and offers an American-style liberal arts education. All classes are taught in English.Muñoz met AUI-S Provost John Agresto last November after the Notre Dame professor gave a lecture about the Constitution in Philadelphia. Agresto later invited Muñoz to teach students about American democracy in a workshop setting at AUI-S.Muñoz left for Iraq on March 25 and returned on April 5, traveling 30 hours each way. Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts (ISLA) funded the trip.“I definitely want to thank Agustin Fuentes, director of the ISLA,” Muñoz said.On a typical day, Muñoz did some of his own work in the morning, ate lunch with faculty in the afternoon, met with his class and held informal conversations with students after class.“I taught for five days, but the total trip was 10 days,” Muñoz said. “I taught a 75 minute class which tended to go to 90 minutes. Anyone could come, and more students came every day.”Muñoz said the students arrived at each seminar class well prepared and with many questions.“The first day we did the Declaration of Independence and [discussed] what the purpose of government is. The second day we did the Federalist Number 10. [We then] spent two days on religious freedom and one day on constitutional design,” Muñoz said. “Students were so engaged because Iraq just wrote a constitution.”Muñoz said most students looked to America as the ideal democratic society.“[We discussed that] liberal democracy has its advantages and disadvantages,” he said. “They are so enamored with the idea of democracy, to have someone talk about the disadvantages of democracy was new to them.”Muñoz said some female students worried about the abuses of freedom. These students were concerned too much freedom could lead to an increased prevalence of abortions and pornography.Toward the end of his stay in Iraq, Muñoz gave a lecture open to the entire university titled “Constitutional Democracy and Religious Freedom.”“In the lecture I did a comparison between the Iraqi and American constitutions,” Muñoz said. “Islam is the established religion in the Iraqi constitution. I compared that to how we don’t have an official religion in America. Students thought it would be impossible not to have an established religion [In Iraq].”Muñoz said students were surprised a separation of church and state is not considered anti-religious. They also struggled to comprehend the idea of a limited government.“They had not seen the arguments for these ideas before,” Muñoz said.Muñoz said his class felt “in many ways, just like a seminar at Notre Dame.”But he said teaching students who are so unfamiliar with concepts like freedom of speech and freedom of religion — concepts most Americans do not think twice about — was refreshing.“[The trip] reminded me why I love to teach these things, because the students were so hungry to learn and the ideas were so new to them,” Muñoz said. “The eagerness of the students was infectious — they desire so much to live as a stable democracy like America.”last_img read more

Vermont treasurer cautions US debt ceiling impasse could impact state’s credit rating

first_imgWhile federal negotiations continue on raising the U.S. debt ceiling, Vermont’s State Treasurer is cautioning that the seeming impasse could negatively impact Vermont’s hard-earned Triple-A bond credit rating.                 ‘Yesterday, we learned from Moody’s Investor Services that even the highest-rated states, including Vermont, would have their ratings reviewed next week in light of the continued U.S. debt ceiling debate,’ said State Treasurer Beth Pearce. ‘However, I’m confident Vermont’s track record of fiscal responsibility will serve us well in any rating review. Vermont has the highest credit rating in New England, one of the highest ratings in the country, a strong cash position and healthy reserves.’                 Pearce said such disappointing news concerns her because the State’s high bond rating enables Vermont to borrow funds for critical infrastructure needs at very low rates and save taxpayers millions of dollars in interest payments. On July 13, Moody’s placed the U.S. government’s debt ratings on review for possible downgrade. Moody’s informed the Treasurer’s Office that it also was concerned that states would be negatively impacted by disruptions caused by the failure to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.                 State and federal governments sell bonds to investors to borrow money to make investments in areas such as public infrastructure. In Vermont, money raised by a bond sale funds a wide range of capital purposes, including State building construction and maintenance, health and public safety, and pollution control projects. The higher such bonds are rated, the more creditworthy a rating agency evaluates the bond issuer to be. Vermont bonds are rated Triple-A by Moody’s and Fitch Ratings and Double-A+ by the Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service.                 ‘The debate in Washington is a painful reminder that even though Vermont is fiscally sound and we are responsibly managing our finances through this economic downturn, we also are affected by national public policy decisions. It would be regrettable if all of the hard work and sacrifice that State government, employees and taxpayers have made to earn Vermont’s excellent ratings is put at risk due to events beyond our control,’ said Pearce.                 Vermont’s next general obligation bond sale is not scheduled until mid-October and Pearce said the State has sufficient cash balances and receipts to delay that sale even further if necessary.                 ‘We are fortunate that we can get through any short- or even medium-term bond market disruption,’ explained Pearce. ‘Many states are not in such an advantageous position. If a resolution to the debt ceiling issue is not forthcoming, debt markets will be volatile. States and municipalities with lower credit ratings may have difficulty accessing the market at affordable interest rates, if at all. I remain hopeful, however, that a resolution will take place before the deadline.’                 The Treasurer’s Office has worked closely with State officials to review rating agency concerns and to develop contingency plans. Vermont has sufficient liquid cash reserves to manage delays in receipt of federal funds, and all of its existing debt is fixed rate and long term, which protects it from both rising interest rates and ‘rollover’ risk.last_img read more

Battle for the Continent: How MFM Escaped Enyimba’s Siege

first_imgShooting Stars beating Akwa thrust Enyimba into third position, needing a win of any sort against Katsina United on the last day to book a CAF Confederation Cup ticket irrespective of what happens in Uyo. That his boys got a result Akwa failed to get in Ibadan should make Anyansi-Agwu one of the happiest men around the arena but his mood was shockingly different.He was among the last to leave as he was glued to his seat long after the final whistle. Hands on his jaw, he gazed into space and couldn’t mutter a word. Obviously, bemoaning a lost opportunity. When he managed to rise up, he took the ‘long’ walk speaking to no one. He was battling hard to subdue his emotions. Men also cry, you know.His expectations may have been heightened by the fact that his boys led till four minutes of regulation time left. At that point, the prospect of leaving Enugu with maximum points was more appealing. If Chibuzor Madu didn’t convert the late penalty that shared the spoils, Enyimba was primed to secure a Champions League ticket if they beat Katsina and MFM fails to win in Maiduguri on the last day.This was Anyansi-Agwu’s ideal scenario. While a return to the continent, whatever competition, is paramount, Enyimba always craves to play in the more illustrious Champions League. Why not? The People’s Elephants are two-time African champions and are always comfortable mixing it with the continent’s best.The hunger in Enyimba was highlighted in the way they approached the Wikki game on match day 36, well aware that only a high scoreline will boost their ambitions. The 4-0 scoreline would have served as a fillip to their quest for the bigger pie.Enyimba’s emphatic defeat of Wikki made Akwa rue missed chances in the 2-1 victory over Lobi two days earlier. Suddenly, the teams were tied on both points and goals difference. Hitherto, Akwa had a superior goals difference, an advantage that would have come to the fore if both teams ended up with the same points.Match day 37 results changed all these. If both teams lost, it would have come down to who conceded or scored more goals. The emphasis on the last match day would have been on the number of goals scored if they record routine wins at home. But Enyimba’s draw in Enugu places them in third position on 58 points, one ahead of Akwa.The tie on points and goals difference has been broken. Enyimba is now in the driving seat in the battle for the Confederation Cup ticket. Akwa must beat Kano Pillars in Uyo while hoping Enyimba doesn’t win against Katsina. But, while Akwa needs favours from Katsina, Enyimba needs no such favours from anyone. All they need to do is beat Katsina and the ticket is in the bag irrespective of what happens in Uyo. This highlights the importance of that solitary point in Enugu.So while Anyansi-Agwu might play Oliver Twist, he should also take into cognizance the other possible scenarios. What if Enyimba lost and Akwa won in Ibadan? What if Akwa had also drawn in Ibadan? What if the Promise Keepers had even won? Enyimba would have been on the back foot. Now, the ticket is theirs lose.Not a few believe Akwa has played the best football all season. They are even good enough to pick a Champions League ticket but Enyimba’s experience in season run-ins shone through. It is not yet Uhuru but the knack to get decisive results at crucial moments has made the task easier for the seven-time Nigerian champions. And it is Akwa’s failure to get such key results that has been their bane.But, while these teams’ aspirations have been limited to the Confederation Cup ticket, MFM should be grateful to Madu for not missing the late minute spot kick against Enyimba. MFM coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu has been talking tough, fancying his team’s chances of beating Elkanemi in Maiduguri while wishing Plateau bottle it against Rangers paving the way for the Olukoya boys to win the title. Ilechukwu can now concentrate on overhauling Plateau at the top since he has no cause to look over his shoulders.One man’s meat, another’s poison. Anyansi-Agwu’s loss, Ilechukwu’s gain.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Clement Nwankpa JrEnyimba’s Chairman, Felix Anyansi-Agwu’s countenance after Rangers forced his boys to a 1-1 draw in Enugu spoke volumes. You would expect him to be happy after news emerged that Akwa United had lost in Ibadan but he, obviously had other ideas.last_img read more