Headline News

  • Education Department releases ‘framework’ for higher-ed rating system


    Nov. 16, 2013: People walk around the Princeton University campus in New Jersey (Reuters) The Education Department released a “framework” Friday for how it will rate more than 7,000 colleges and universities across the nation. The institutions were hoping the department would release the actual system President Obama announced last year that hopes to encourage transparency and affordability. However, the wait for the ratings system will continue. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT Much of the focus is on access, affordability and outcomes — particularly the number of students completing their degree. Although graduates’ salaries would be considered, the administration said the salary-specific data would be focused on seeing if graduates are able to pay for basic needs. It does not say how each of the metrics it’s considering would be weighted, although it’s possible an institution could receive more than one rating under different categories. Schools would not be ranked. Obama received much criticism upon the announcement of the …

    December 19, 2014 12:22 am
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Politics

  • Louisville lawmakers approve minimum wage hike


    LOUISVILLE, Ky (Reuters) – Louisville, Kentucky officials on Thursday approved an increase to the city’s minimum wage, boosting it from the federal rate of $7.25 to $9 an hour by 2017, becoming the 12th city to approve a hike this year. The increase, which came after a series of contentious debates in the weeks leading up to and even during Thursday’s Louisville Metro Council meeting, came down to a party-line vote. All 16 Democrats in attendance supported the measure, while all nine Republicans voted against it. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer had said earlier he would veto the council’s original proposal, which would have raised pay to $10.10 an hour over a three-year period. However, Fischer said in a statement released after the vote he was pleased with the amended ordinance. After 2017, the wage will be adjusted according to the Consumer Price Index. With the vote, Louisville became the 12th U.S. city to increase the …

    December 18, 2014 11:42 pm
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Stocks

  • Avon fined for bribing Chinese officials with Gucci bags


    Beauty goods company Avon has been fined $135 million by the SEC for bribing Chinese officials with luxury goods — everything from Gucci bags to Tiffany pens. The SEC alleged that Avon’s subsidiary in China doled out $8 million in bribes — cash, gifts, entertainment, and travel — to Chinese officials in charge of new regulations to sell directly to consumers. The watchdog also said the company falsely recorded the bribes as employee business expenses or vendor payments. The luxury bribes, which included Louis Vuitton goods and box tickets to the China Open, helped Avon (AVP) win one of the first direct-selling business licenses in China in March 2006, according to a SEC statement. Avon was able to “gain an edge over their competitors, and the company reaped substantial financial benefits as a result,” said the SEC’s Scott W. Friestad. The SEC said Avon violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by failing to put in …

    December 18, 2014 10:42 pm
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Sports

  • Merckx and Ickx feted as Belgium’s speed demons


    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Eddy Merckx did it on a bicycle, Jacky Ickx drove fast for Formula 1. Now that both are approaching 70, an exhibition is celebrating their feats as two of history’s speediest Belgians. The stunning accomplishments of the “fast friends” are chronicled in an exhibition that runs until June 21, just after Merckx’s 70th birthday on June 17. Ickx turns 70 on Jan. 1. “This exhibition is ideal to refresh the memory. It’s a fine testimony of everything we accomplished,” Merckx said at the official opening earlier this month. “It allowed me to look back and ask myself how I managed to win so many times.” The exhibition is at the Trade Mart at Heysel, on the northern edge of Brussels, notorious for a football stadium disaster of 1985 in which 39 people died. Merckx and Ickx diced with death, but say their guardian angels saved them as they emerged hurt but alive …

    December 19, 2014 12:22 am
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World News

  • EU needs ‘long-term’ Russia strategy


    19 December 2014 Last updated at 00:36 Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister, is the new president of the European Council The EU needs a long-term strategy on Russia instead of simply reacting to events, the new EU summit chairman Donald Tusk has said. Mr Tusk said he had been “really moved” by the leaders’ discussion of the Ukraine crisis. Earlier, the EU tightened sanctions against Russia over its support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. “We need a plan for years… we’re not too optimistic, we have to be realistic,” Mr Tusk said. “Russia is our strategic problem, not Ukraine,” said Mr Tusk, the former Polish Prime Minister. “The biggest challenge is Russia’s approach not only to Ukraine but also to Europe. “Our discussion [on Ukraine at dinner] showed Europe united as never before. Russia’s behaviour needs a pragmatic solution, a united, common position.” Poland, bordering on Ukraine, has long had tense relations …

    December 19, 2014 12:22 am
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Technology

  • Apple under fire again for working conditions at Chinese factories


    Workers in Chinese factories making Apple products continue to be poorly treated, with exhausted employees falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts, the BBC has said after an undercover investigation. Reporters who took jobs at the Pegatron factories found workers regularly exceeded 60 hours a week – contravening the company’s guidance – and that standards on ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were also breached. The broadcaster said promises made by Apple to protect workers in the wake of a spate of suicides at supplier Foxconn in 2010 were “routinely broken”. Apple said that it disagreed with the BBC’s conclusions. The BBC filmed a health and safety exam at a Pegatron factory in which workers chanted out answers in unison, meaning there was little chance of failing. The footage also appeared to show workers had no choice to opt out of doing night shifts or working while standing. One reporter had to work 18 …

    December 19, 2014 12:02 am
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Science

  • Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough


    To encode data, today’s computer memory technology uses electric currents — a major limiting factor for reliability and shrinkability, and the source of significant power consumption. If data could instead be encoded without current — for example, by an electric field applied across an insulator — it would require much less energy, and make things like low-power, instant-on computing a ubiquitous reality. A team at Cornell University led by postdoctoral associate John Heron, who works jointly with Darrell Schlom, professor of Industrial Chemistry in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Dan Ralph, professor of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, has made a breakthrough in that direction with a room-temperature magnetoelectric memory device. Equivalent to one computer bit, it exhibits the holy grail of next-generation nonvolatile memory: magnetic switchability, in two steps, with nothing but an electric field. Their results were published online Dec. 17 in Nature, along with an associated …

    December 19, 2014 12:03 am
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Health

  • Disgraced Japan researcher fails to replicate ‘game changing’ stem cell results


    TOKYO (Reuters) – A disgraced Japanese researcher has failed to replicate results hailed as a potential breakthrough in stem-cell treatment and efforts to do so will be abandoned, officials at her research institute said on Friday. The scandal involving the research, which detailed simple ways to reprogram mature cells back to an embryonic-like state, eventually led to the retraction of papers published in the influential journal Nature and tarnished the reputation of Japanese scientific research. The so-called STAP cells had seemed to offer hope for replacing damaged cells or even growing new human organs for sick or injured people, and made research leader Haruko Obokata a national sensation after the news broke in January. But the discovery began to unravel soon after when other researchers said they could not replicate the results. Investigations by Riken, the Japanese research institute where Obokata was based, found she had plagiarized and fabricated parts of the papers, which were …

    December 19, 2014 12:02 am
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Entertainment

  • 51 Dirty thoughts we’ve had about Brad Pitt, even as he turns 51 (GIFS)


    1. Sweet. Jesus. Image: Giphy.com 2. Seriously, though, can someone get a Brad Pitt blow-up doll in production, STAT? 3. If that is what being a figment of Ed Norton’s Fight Club imagination looks like, sign us up for the sequel, please. 4. I wonder if Brad Pitt is as good in bed as he looks like he’d be? 5. Thank you, Troy. You just filled every female’s spank bank for life. 6. What’s that, Brad Pitt in Thelma Louise? You say, ”Everybody down on the floor”? You don’t have to ask me twice. Image: Giphy.com 7. What I wouldn’t give to be Johnny Suede’s hand right now. 8. I’d do naughty things to you, Cool World cartoon Pitt. That sounded strange, even for me. 9. Um, yum. 10. Am I turned on by both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie right now? 11. Why, yes… I would like to meet Joe Black. If by Joe Black, you mean Brad …

    December 18, 2014 11:42 pm
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Editorial

  • Catholic university Marquette suspends professor over anti-gay marriage controversy


    Marquette University seems to be sending a message to students and faculty who support Catholic doctrine regarding marriage: if you oppose gay marriage keep your mouth shut. In November a teaching assistant berated a student and told him that he could not say anything against gay marriage because it might offend other students – and that opposition to gay marriage could be considered homophobic. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT “You don’t have a right in this class to make homophobic comments,” teaching assistant Cheryl Abbate told the unnamed student.  It appears Marquette University is conspiring with Abbate to chill if not silence dissenting campus voices. John McAdams, a tenured associate professor at the school, was the first to expose the incident on his “Marquette Warrior” blog. He wrote a scathing commentary about Abbate and staunchly defended the young student.  “Like the rest of academia, Marquette is less and less a real university,” he wrote. “And when gay marriage …

    December 19, 2014 12:02 am
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Odd News

  • Canadian driver jailed for deaths caused by stopping for ducks


    OTTAWA (Reuters) – A Canadian woman was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Thursday for causing two deaths in 2010 when she stopped her car on a Quebec highway to help a group of ducklings crossing the road. Emma Czornobaj had been convicted in June of two counts each of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death. According to media reports on Thursday, Czornobaj stopped her car abruptly in the passing lane of a highway south of Montreal when she saw the ducklings. The motorcycle behind Czornobaj’s car then crashed into her vehicle, killing the 50-year-old man driving the motorcycle and his 16-year-old daughter. “I just wanted to pick all these ducklings up and put them in my car,” Czornobaj had testified during her trial. “I know it was a mistake.” The jail time will be served on the weekends. Czornobaj was also sentenced to 240 hours of community service, probation and banned from …

    December 18, 2014 3:58 pm
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