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December 10, 2007

University of Minnesota 4-year graduation rates rising

According to the Star Tribune:

980 College of Liberal Arts students graduated Sunday during the middle-of-the-academic year graduation ceremony at Northrop Auditorium.

In 2006, more than 40 percent of the university’s students graduated in four years.

Getting through a 5-year college in 4 years saves students over 18,000 in tuition and fees alone.

Minnesota is tied for 71st among the top 130 national universities.

The universities goal is that 60 percent of the next fall’s freshman class will graduate in four years.

The average credit load for freshman is currently 15.3 according to Craig Swan, the vice provost for undergraduate education.

December 2, 2007

Picketers let Liz Taylor through their line

According to Forbes.com:

Actress Liz Taylor persuaded striking TV and film writers to briefly put down their picket signs Saturday night in Los Angeles.

The Writers Guild of America agreed not to picket the Paramount Pictures lot, where AIDS activist Taylor gave a benefit performance.

Taylor, 75, said she would not cross picket lines on Dec. 1, which was World AIDS day. She said she asked the writers union to put down their signs for one day so that she and her guests could enter the studio with a clear conscience.

Writers have been on strike since Nov. 5.

The goal of the benefit performance of A.R. Gurney’s play “Love Letters? with James Earl Jones was to raise $1 million for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

November 18, 2007

Maryland parents forced to vaccinate children…or else

According to CNN:

Judge C. Philip Nichols signed letters threatening parents with jail time or fines if they didn’t immunize their children.

Nichols ordered parents to come to court Saturday morning and either immunize their children on the spot, or to prove that they had already been immunized for diseases such as mumps, measles and polio.

Families who failed to comply could face 10 to 30 days in jail.

All states require school-age children to be immunized, but Maryland parents said that they objected to the heavy-handed way the situation was handled.

Public health officials said the benefits of vaccinations against childhood disease outweighs the risks.

Parents protesting the policy argued that there is the risk of serious adverse reactions, which in their minds does not outweigh the benefits of getting their child vaccinated.

Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey sent out 1,700 letters to parents whose children had not been immunized.

101 vaccinations were administered Saturday and 71 records were updated, Ivey said.

November 4, 2007

Ticket system for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing crashes

According to ZDNet News:

A half hour after the second-round of ticket sales for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing began, the online booking system broke down.

The Beijing Olympic Committee said in a statement published Tuesday night that it had decided toe temporarily halt domestic ticket sales in the second phase to improve the technical plan.

The Web site received over eight million hits and 200,000 orders per second, which overwhelmed the technical system.

Ticketmaster, which hosts the site, is working on a solution.

October 28, 2007

Wife of current Argentina president, Senator Kirchner campaigning to be the next president

According to the New York Times:

Cristinia Fernandez de Kirchner, the wife of current Argentina’s president, Nestor Kirchner, might become the first woman to be elected president of Argentina.

Kirchner, 54, who is a senator, is leading in early official results.

If she wins, Kirchner would become the second woman to be elected leader of a South American nation in two years, after Michelle Bachelet became president of Chile last year.

Rival candidates such as Roberto Lavagna, a former finance minister, and Elisa Carrio, a congresswoman have accused Kirchner’s party of “systemic theft? of ballots.

Kirchner, the center-left Peronist party candidate is among other things, seeking to improve Argentina’s standing abroad in Europe and the United States.

October 21, 2007

Noble peace prize winner deemed a racist

According to CNN:
Nobel laureate biologist James Watson was suspended from his job after saying that black people are less intelligent.

Watson, 79, who was in the 1962 Noble prize for discovering the structure of DNA was suspended from administrative responsibilities by the board of trustees at New York’s Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Watson has formally apologized Thursday for his comments.

In an interview on October 14 that Watson gave to the Sunday Times, quoted him as saying he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really."

Watson also asserted there was no reason to believe different races separated by geography should have evolved identically, and he said that while he hoped everyone was equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true."

"I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said," Watson said during an appearance at the Royal Society in London. "I can certainly understand why people, reading those words, have reacted in the ways that they have."

"To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly. That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief."

October 14, 2007

Gunman slices of victim’s penis

According to Forbes:

A 76-year-old Turkish-born man is suspected of fatally shooting a 58-year-old Turkish associate and slicing off the victim’s penis in Vienna, Austria.

Investigators are calling it an “honor killing,? and believe that the suspect was jealous that his business associate flirted with his wife.

Officials said that the man allegedly shot the victim with a shotgun and then cut off his penis with a knife, leaving him to bleed to death in the street.

This is the first known incident of its kind in Austria, which is home to about 200,000 Turks. Europe has the third-largest Turkish population after Germany and France.

October 7, 2007

Brainerd woman pays $222,000 for mp3s

According to the Star Tribune:

A Duluth jury has awarded a $222,000 judgment Thursday against Jammie Thomas of Brainderd, Minn who was in violation of online music piracy and illegal downloading.

The judgment against Thomas came from the U.S. District Court in Duluth.

Gene Munster, a digital music industry analyst for Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis said that “the war against illegal downloading has long been lost because 85 percent of all downloaded digital music is still illegal copies.?

Munster added that a person’s changes of getting caught pirating music are less than their changes of being struck by lightning.

Thomas, 30, said in a telephone interview that she was falsely accused of copyright infringement.

September 30, 2007

Woman accidentally kills herself

According to CNN:

Carol Ann Gotbaum, 45, from New York may have accidentally strangled herself while in police custody police said.

The accident might have occurred when she attempted to free herself of handcuffs police speculate.

She was in custody because she was arrested Friday for disorderly conduct at a Phoenix terminal.

She was handcuffed and taken to a holding room after she became disruptive.

She was left alone in the holding room, and when officers went to check on her 10 minutes later – she was “unconscious and not breathing,? said Sgt. Andy Hill Phoenix Police Department spokesman.

A spokeswoman for the Maricopa County medical examiner’s office said that an autopsy would be done Monday.

September 23, 2007

Microsoft's new game "Halo 3" gets high praise

According to Reuters (India), the third highly anticipated video game, “Halo 3? from Microsoft Corp. gained high praise from game reviewers on Sunday.

Reviewers are excitedly approving of the game’s lush settings, cinematic feel of the game’s interface and array of multiplayer features.

“Halo 3,? is the final chapter of a trilogy that began in 2001 with the release of Microsoft’s wildly famous gaming console – the first generation Xbox.

Reputable gaming news Web site GameSpy gave “Halo 3? five stars, which is its highest ranking, saying it was so good that it was worth buying the newer generation of the Xbox-- the Xbox 360 -- just to play it.

"When you roll all this stuff together ... it really feels like a dramatically different game, and a dramatically bigger game. It comes together in an amazing package that is definitely one of the year's best," said GameSpot, which is another top gaming Web site.

“Halo 3? is the game industry equivalent of a new “Harry Potter? book or a “Star Wars? movie, so specialty gaming retail chains such as GameStop Corp, expect the initial demand to surpass the record for “Halo 2? (released in 2004), which brought in $125 million in just 24 hours of its release.

“Halo 3? will be available in almost every gaming store near you on Sept. 25 at 12:01a.m.

September 16, 2007

Youssif in America

According to CNN, on Sunday, Youssif, a 5-year-old boy from Iraq met his favorite superhero Spiderman in Los Angeles.
Youssif met a convoy of other superheroes around the back stages of Universal Studios, but none of them could compete with Spiderman.
Nine months ago in Iraq, Youssif was grabbed outside of his home in Baghdad by masked man, doused in gasoline and was lit on fire.
With poor healthcare and not getting any help in Iraq, Youssif's father decided to come to CNN for help.
Youssif’s father knows that he put his family's lives in danger by coming to CNN, but said that he would do anything for Youssif.
Youssif's family is now in America, hoping to get all the help they can for their son. Youssif's father is so grateful for all the generosity his family has received since they have been in America. "It's been a dream," the father said.

* No other news organization has cover Youssif as extensively as CNN, I researched for about 1/2 hour and found numerous articles written for CNN, but not much anywhere else. CNN has loyally chronicled Youssif's story quite faithfully. This article was not written by the AP. There is a special note at the beginning of all of articles on Youssif: "Editor's note: CNN agreed not to use the full names of the family because of concerns for their safety."