April 22, 2009

Emergency Contraceptive now available for 17-year-olds

The morning-after contraceptive pills are now available to 17-year-olds without a doctors prescription, reported The New York Times.

This controversial decision came Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration.

Plan-B is the name of the drug, and it comes in the form of two pills. If it is taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse it can prevent conception.

The Times stated that the drug has been widely available since 2006 to women aged 18, but it had no real effect on the number of teen pregnancies and abortion rates.

Judge Edward R. Korman of the Federal District Court in New York was the catalysis in the move. He ruled that the past policy enacted by the Bush administration was driven by politics not science. The New York Times said that Korman gave the FDA 30 days to drop the age down one year.

The New York Times:

April 19, 2009

Bush returns from four day trip in Latin America

President Obama returned from a four day trip in Latin America, and he defended the accusations of him being too cozy with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, reported The New York Times.

Obama said that he was being polite, and was not undercutting the United States' strategic plans.

Republicans including, John Ensign of Nevada, accused Obama of being too soft on Chavez. It was reported that Chavez did agree to send the first ambassador to the United States.

The story reported that the trip included a summit meeting of the leaders in the Western Hemisphere.

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, reportedly confronted Obama, saying that the United States was trying to assassinate him. The story said that Obama refuted this by saying that the United States will not forcefully remove democratically elected leaders.

The New York Times:

April 8, 2009

Teaching shortage possible with more retirements

In the coming years an exodus of retiring teachers could create a shortage of teachers, said a report by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, reported The New York Times,

The report said that in the next four years one third of the 3.2 million teachers in the United States could retire. This could create a shortage of teachers and strain the retirement system, that is funded by taxpayers.

Teachers are retiring earlier, trading paychecks for retirement payments, and the slow influx of teachers does not help the situation. The report said that a third of new teachers leave the profession after five years.

Restructuring schools and having older teachers mentor new teachers to help them transition into teaching, is the main fix that is presented in the report,

The Times said that a similar report was issued in 1999 by the Education Department, and the issues never came to fruition. The Times interview Micheal Podgursky , a professor at the University of Missouri, who studies teacher retirement. He said that the parts of the report are exaggerated.

The New York Times:

April 5, 2009

Bankruptcy for G,M, and Chrysler Possible

The Chief Executive Officer of General Motors said that bankruptcy is "more probable" now that the Obama administration rejected their restructuring plans, the New York Times and MSNBC reported.

On Monday Obama gave G.M., 60 days to come up with a better plan, and 30 days for Chrysler to partner with Fiat.

The new C.E.O., of G.M., Frederick A. Henderson, said that if a new plan is not created the company with have to file for bankruptcy protection.

Henderson said that he wants to avoid this, and G.M., will continue closing factories and offering buyouts to employees. With sales down 51 percent in January and February those cost cutting measures have been a way to stay away from total collapse.

To build customer confidence G.M., introduced G.M., Total Confidence. This allows customers who lost their jobs to have their monthly payments covered for up to $500 by G.M. Ford introduced a similar program called the Ford Advantage Plan.

The New York Times:


March 23, 2009

Texas School Board Vote Could Challenge Evolution

The Texas School Board of Education is expected this week to vote on new science curriculum that would challenge evolution, and possibly affect schools across the United States.

In the story by The Wall Street Journal, the new curriculum would have teachers tell students about the weaknesses in evolutionary theory. These weaknesses would include that the cells that makeup all organisms are too complicated to be the result of random mutations.

The school board chairman, Don McLeroy supports the new curriculum, and said that there is a problem with evolution. "We need to be honest with the kids," McLeroy said.

Texas is the biggest market for textbooks in the United States, and a curriculum change could spell a change in the evolution material in biology textbooks across the nation.

The school board consist of 15 members including seven social conservatives, a seven group bipartisan opposition, and one swing voter who supports teaching evolution.

The Wall Street Journal said that the vote is supposed to happen after a three-day meeting that starts on Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal:

March 15, 2009

A.I.G. to give millions in bonus to employees

The American International Group will start paying $450 million in bonus to the company's financial products unit, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported

A.I.G., received $170 billion in tax payers' money from the Treasury and Federal Reserve. This money bailed out the company that was on the brink of bankruptcy.

The financial products unit is the section of the company that is blamed for A.I.G.'s demise. The New York Times reported that they wrote trillions of dollars worth of credit-default swaps that protected investors from defaults on bonds backed in many cases by subprime mortgages. This issue is also a major factor into why the economy went into a tailspin.

Sunday, $165 million will be paid to 400 employees ranging in $1,000 to $6.5 million in bonuses. Seven executives will receive $3 million in bonuses. All these figures were reported by The New York Times.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner called the bonuses unacceptable and that the contracts should be renegotiated.

Edward M. Libby the government-appointed CEO of A.I.G., said that the company is contractually obligated to pay the bonuses, and that there is no legal way to break them. He also added that the bonuses were negotiated before the bailout, and that it is the best way to keep the top talent at A.I.G.

The Wall Street Journal:

The New York Times:

March 8, 2009

Colleges Rethinking Admissions Strategies This Year

Private and public colleges alike are changing their admissions strategies in light of the recent financial crisis, The New York Times reported.

The financial crises has put potential college students in hard position but this is also true for the colleges that are accepting students next year.

The number of applicants at private schools have gone down as students shop around for bargains. More students are choosing less expensive schools as worries of lower financial aid and job loss has gripped the nation.

To compensate for less applicants private schools are saying that they will be accepting more students including students who apply early.

Traditional methods of finding how interested students are in the schools are out the window. Higher travel cost have led to a drop in campus tours and more students are choosing to live closer to home.

The New York Times:

March 1, 2009

Kansas Gov. nominated for health postion

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius accepted President's Obama's offer to head the department of health and human services, reported The New York Times and USA Today.

Sebelius is expected to be a major player in Obama's push for health care reform that will give health care to 40 million uninsured Americans.

As a democratic governor of Kansas, a reliable red state, Sebelius is know for her bipartisanship. She has been a supporter of Obama ever since she endorsed the current president early in his election run.

Even with her reputation as being bipartisan, Sebelius has had difficulty pushing health care issues in Kansas. The New York Times reported that she pushed a universal health care program that never took foot.

Sebelius is also a pro-choice Catholic and this will draw up the volatile issue of abortion during her nomination process.

This is Obama's second choice for the secretary position; his first was Tom Daschle who withdrew after reports surfaced that he refused to pay $128,000 in taxes.

The official announcement is expected on Monday.

The New York Times:

USA Today:

February 22, 2009

Break in Chandra Levy case will lead to an arrest

New evidence in the death of Chandra Levy case may lead to an arrest eight years after her death, The New York Times and the Associated Press reported.

Chandra Levy was a former intern for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington D.C. She disappeared on May 1, 2001 and her body was found in Rock Creek Park in D.C., more than a year later.

The story was highly sensationalized when the investigation of Levy's death revealed that she was in a relationship with Gary A. Condit a married seven term congressman from California.

Allegations that Levy was involved in her death helped to contribute to Levy's failed re-election bid in 2002.

The suspect in the case is Ingmar Guandique,27, a Salvadoran immigrant, according to both the Associated Press and The New York Times.

Guandique is serving a 10 year term in prison for similar attacks on women, and he was a person of interest early in the case. He denied being in the park at the time of the murder and he passed a lie detector test, according to the Associated Press.

Charges are supposed to be filed in several days.

The New York Times:

USA Today/Associated Press:

February 15, 2009

Icying could be cause of fatal plane crash in Buffalo

A Continental plane that crashed Thursday night near Buffalo, New York, killing 50 people, could have been caused by severe icing the New York Times and the New York Daily News reported.

Steve Chealander of the Nation Transportation Safety Board said that the crew reported icing on the windshield and wings and requested lower flying altitudes.

The pilot, Captain Marvin Renslow, 47 tried to abort the landing but then the plane experienced severe pitching and rolling. The plane later crashed into a house killing one occupant inside the house and all 49 people on board the plane.

The New York Daily News reported that a federal aviation official said that the plane may have been on auto pilot when it crashed.

Chealander said that manual flying is required in severe icing conditions, so if the plane had been on autopilot it could be a violation of airline policy.

William Voss said that ice, "can seriously distort the airflow over the surfaces, so if you don't keep the wings clean you could find yourself in a situation where ... suddenly the aircraft decides to quit flying (New York Daily News)."

Chealander said that the de-icing system was on before the crew started discussing the icing problems.

Two other people were inside the house at the time of the crash, a 57-year-old woman and her 22-year-old daughter, and they have been released from the hospital (New York Times).

New York Times:

New York Daily News:

February 7, 2009

Stimulus deal reached by Senate

Friday a deal was struck in the Senate between Republican moderates and Democrats according to The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Susan Collins of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania agreed to support the new $780 billion stimulus package.

More than $110 billion was cut from the original Senate stimulus package including: $20 billion for school construction and $8 billion to refurbish federal buildings for energy efficiency (The New York Times).

The House passed a different version of the package at $820 billion earlier in the week, and if the Senate package is passed it will be taken to the House for tweaks.

John McCain leads Senate Republicans who believe that the stimulus package is not the solution that will jump start the slumping U.S., economy.

According to the Labor Department 598,000 jobs were lost in January bring the total job loss to more that 3.6 million workers.

President Obama has aggressively attacked Republicans because he feels that, "It is inexcusable and irresponsible for any of us to get bogged down in distraction, delay or politics as usual while millions of Americans are being put out of work.?

The New York Times;

The Washington Post:

January 31, 2009

Octuplet's Mom Fuels Controversy

A 33-year-old Southern Californian woman, who gave birth to eight children Monday, is stirring up a whirlwind of discussion on the issue of fertility clinics and high-multiple births the Associated Press reported.

Nadya Suleman the mother of the eight children, which includes six boys and two girls, already had six children making some people debate about the ethical issues of having many children. Large multiple births "are presented on TV shows as a 'Brady Bunch' moment. They're not," fumed Arthur Caplan, a bioethics professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

On the other side of the issue Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, who has his own fertility clinic, said, "Who am I to say that six is the limit? There are people who like to have big families."

The Associated Press reported that Nadya Suleman is obsessed with having kids even when she was a teenager.

Angela Suleman, Nadya's mom, is currently taking care of the other six children while her daughter is in the hospital but said, ""I'm going to be gone," when her daughter comes back.