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October 05, 2007

Corruption scandal at Oral Roberts University

Scandal brewing at Oral Roberts U. - Yahoo! News

[Oral Roberts' son and university president] Richard Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors' expense, including numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter's senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay.

She is accused of dropping tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as "underage males."

At a chapel service this week on the 5,300-student campus known for its 60-foot-tall bronze sculpture of praying hands, Roberts said God told him: "We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not. This lawsuit ... is about intimidation, blackmail and extortion."

Boy Scout badges recalled because of chinese lead-taint

Recall of Scout Badges Made in China - New York Times

DALLAS, Oct. 4 (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America said Thursday that a painted plastic badge worn by some of its youngest scouts was being voluntarily recalled after a test revealed high levels of lead in the paint.

As many as 1.6 million of the badges, which are made in China, may be affected.

“We’re doing everything we can,” said Gregg Shields, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts.

The plastic totem badge is given to Cub Scouts, who are usually 7 or 8. The badge has a yellow and blue border, includes a picture of a bear and a wolf and reads “Progress Toward Ranks.”

October 04, 2007

Assigning homework to parents, to involve them with school

Spreading Homework Out So Even Parents Have Some - New York Times

So far, Mr. Frye, an English teacher at Montclair High School, has asked the parents to read and comment on a Franz Kafka story, Section 1 of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” and a speech given by Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Their newest assignment is a poem by Saul Williams, a poet, musician and rapper who lives in Los Angeles. The ninth graders complete their assignments during class; the parents are supposed to write their responses on a blog Mr. Frye started online.

If the parents do not comply, Mr. Frye tells them, their child’s grade may suffer — a threat on which he has made good only once in the three years he has been making such assignments.

The point, he said, is to keep parents involved in their children’s ’ education well into high school. Studies have shown that parental involvement improves the quality of the education a student receives, but teenagers seldom invite that involvement. So, Mr. Frye said, he decided to help out.

“Parents complain about never getting to see their kids’ work,” he said. “Now they have to.”

NYT reporter caught falsifying interviews

New York Press - MATT ELZWEIG - Questions for the Questioner

“[Solomon] rewrites her questions and then applies any question to any answer that a person says,” Glass told me in a tape-recorded telephone interview.

Both experienced journalists, Glass and Dickinson accused Solomon of violating basic ethical standards by making up dialogue never said during their conversations with her—conversations Solomon taped. Dickinson (in a tape-recorded telephone interview) described an exchange that she says “didn’t happen” during her interview, that she said Solomon put together using her quotes. Glass went even further; of one exchange, he said that “she never actually asked that question,” and added that Solomon “was changing context in a way that changed what I meant.” In Glass’s case, he told a fact-checker for the magazine about the distortion of the interview, in an attempt to have it corrected. “I made my case as forcefully as I knew how,” Glass said in an email to me last week, “but I guess he just disagreed with me.”

And so, the conversations I had with Glass and Dickinson transformed a human interest story into an examination of the questionable ethical choices one very prominent reporter made on behalf of the nation’s top newspaper—an institution itself ravaged by an ethics scandal only four years ago, when then-reporter Jayson Blair was caught falsifying information in his stories, leading to his resignation and the eventual resignation of the paper’s executive editor, Howell Raines.

(via)

Man nearly killed after his hand was trapped in MUNI door

Riders race to save man dragged by streetcar, his hand caught in door

None of the usual protocols to stop the train in an emergency worked, so the passengers forced open a different door to stop the train.

Pitalo said passengers inside were screaming to stop the train.

Finally, he said, another rider triggered the emergency release for another door on the train, bringing the car to an immediate halt.

"The train stopped, with the trapped man only inches away from the wall of the tunnel opening," Pitalo said. "It was completely terrifying. The man was finally able to pull his hand out, and he slowly moved back into the crowd, cradling his arm and his hand."

Pitalo, who has commuted on Muni for 15 years, said the train operator hurried into the streetcar, "yelling, 'Who pulled the release bar?' We all screamed (that) a guy had his hand caught in the door."