Thursday, May 13, 2010

Arizona governor signs bill banning ethnic studies.

From Raw Story:
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill targeting a school district's ethnic studies program, hours after a report by United Nations human rights experts condemned the measure.

State schools chief Tom Horne, who has pushed the bill for years, said he believes the Tucson school district's Mexican-American studies program teaches Latino students that they are oppressed by white people.

Public schools should not be encouraging students to resent a particular race, he said.

"It's just like the old South, and it's long past time that we prohibited it," Horne said.

Brewer's signature on the bill Tuesday comes less than a month after she signed the nation's toughest crackdown on illegal immigration — a move that ignited international backlash amid charges the measure would encourage racial profiling of Hispanics. The governor has said profiling will not be tolerated.

The measure signed Tuesday prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group.

The Tucson Unified School District program offers specialized courses in African-American, Mexican-American and Native-American studies that focus on history and literature and include information about the influence of a particular ethnic group.

For example, in the Mexican-American Studies program, an American history course explores the role of Hispanics in the Vietnam War, and a literature course emphasizes Latino authors.

Subway restaurant tells other eateries to stop using word "footlong."

I hope they don't sue my shmeckle too! From NY Daily News:
It's a controversy that has grown more than a "footlong."

The Subway restaurant chain has mailed cease-and-desist letters to mom-and-pop eateries nationwide that use the term "footlong" to describe menu items.

"I saw that and I said, 'You gotta be kidding me,'" said Blair Hensley, 31, the owner of the Coney Island Drive Inn in Brooksville, Fla., who received one. He said his shop has been advertising footlong hot dogs since 1960.

Subway officials have applied to trademark the term "footlong."

A spokesman for the sandwich giant said the company is recanting the threat made to hotdog stand owners such as Hensley. But it's still targeting shops advertising footlong sandwiches.

Scientists invent DNA robots.

What could go wrong? From Technology Review:
Its precise structure and ability to bind with other molecules makes DNA an attractive scaffolding material for nanotech researchers. Scientists have already used DNA to construct two-dimensional patterns, three-dimensional objects, and simple shape-changing devices. Now two teams of researchers have separately made complex programmable machines using DNA molecules.

Researchers from Columbia University, Arizona State University, and Caltech have made a device that follows a programmable path on a surface patterned with DNA. Meanwhile, researchers from New York University, led by DNA nanoarchitecture pioneer Ned Seeman, have combined multiple DNA devices to make an assembly line. The nano contraption picks up gold nanoparticles as it tumbles along a DNA-patterned surface.

The two machines, described in today's Nature journal, are a possible step forward in making DNA nanobots that could assemble tiny electrical and mechanical devices. DNA robots could also put together molecules in new ways to make new materials, says Lloyd Smith, a chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Robots might have the ability to position one molecule in a particular way so that a reaction happens with another molecule which might not happen if they randomly collide in solution," he says.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Coozer-Bits: Goldblum Edition.

Lame: Kate Gosselin is making the moves on The Goldblum.

Lame: The Goldblum is in another bland Jennifer Aniston rom-com - and he's not even the hunky male protagonist.

Duh:'s top 10 horror remakes includes The Fly.

Awesome: Adam Resurrected gets a good review!

Walgreens to sell DNA tests.

From NY Times:
Genetic tests that assess a person’s risk of getting various diseases are heading to the corner drug store.

Pathway Genomics, a start-up company, is expected to announce on Tuesday that it will sell such a test through most of the nation’s 7,500 Walgreens stores.

The tests sold by Pathway, and others by its competitors, look at specific variations in a person’s DNA to derive information about their risk of getting diseases like diabetes, heart disease and various forms of cancer. Such tests have until now been sold directly to consumers through the Internet or through doctors’ offices.

By capitalizing on the foot traffic in drug stores, Pathway hopes to gain an edge on rivals 23andMe and Navigenics, which are older and better known.

“It’s more consumer awareness than we could get from advertising online,” said Jim Woodman, vice president for corporate strategy at Pathway, which is based in San Diego and is privately held.

The personal genomics companies appear to have garnered fewer than 100,000 customers combined since starting nearly three years ago. Pathway, which started last summer, will not say how many customers it has.

The tests, which generally cost $300 or more, have also stirred controversy. Some genetics experts say the tests cannot provide accurate or significant information because not enough is known yet about the genetic causes of disease. Some critics say doctors should be involved in interpreting the tests.

New York State considers these medical tests, not consumer information, and requires a license. Pathway does not yet have one, so its test will not be carried by Walgreens in New York.

Chicago cops mistreated half a million people.

From the Chicago Tribune:

More than half a million people could be eligible for cash awards in a proposed $16.5 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit accusing Chicago police of mistreating suspects, city officials said.

The City Council Finance Committee on Monday recommended approval of the settlement in the federal civil rights case, filed in 2004 on behalf people who claimed they were subjected to an "institutionalized system of police torture" that included being deprived of adequate food and water.

If approved this week by the full council, up to 514,000 people could be eligible for awards between $90 and $3,000. The amounts could be reduced if too many people apply.

Some one-time suspects might be eligible for three separate awards totaling $5,090, according to case documents. The city would pay the first $15 million in costs, and an insurer would cover the rest, said Mara Georges, the city's top lawyer.

At one point, plaintiffs sought far more, Georges said. "In a case where you have a demand of over $100 million, to settle it for $16.5 million is a good result," she said.

Loevy & Loevy, a civil rights law firm, could receive legal fees of up to $5 million from the $16.5 million settlement fund, out of which administrative costs also would be paid, according to court documents. Attempts to reach the firm's attorneys were not successful.

According to the lawsuit, people were arrested without warrants, shackled to a wall or metal bench and given infrequent meals, few bathroom breaks and no bedding in a manner "consistent with tactics of 'soft torture' used to extract involuntary confessions in other parts of the world."

Mets to become Quidditch team.

I suppose this is good; I don't think that whole baseball thing was working out for them. From the NY Daily News:
When Brooklyn middle-schooler Olivia Wargo invented a game inspired by Quidditch, she never dreamed she'd see a professional athlete play it.

So she was thrilled when Mets pitchers Jonathon Niese and Fernando Nieve turned up at her school to give it a whirl.

The Amazin's appeared as part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign to help kids get fit.

Olivia, an eighth-grader at Mark Twain Intermediate School in Coney Island, dubbed the experience "really cool." But she admitted she was nervous explaining the rules to the two Mets and others there to record the moment.

"It was really nerve-racking talking in front of all the cameras," Olivia said. "I was shaking."

Niese and Nieve took to the game like Harry Potter, which was fortunate because the kids are admitted to the school based on their athletic talent. And the youngsters already knew how to play.

"It was fun to watch the kids going 100 per cent," Niese said. "I hope they take away that they can have fun in school as well as get in shape. But the main thing is having fun."

Olivia figured out a way to play the wizarding world's signature game without flying broomsticks.

She taped three goals made of hula hoops to the walls at each end of the gym and had players bounce a small ball within the circles to score.

The Mets' "School Is Amazing" program, co-sponsored by EmblemHealth insurance, also brought players to schools in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens yesterday and today.

Topless woman battles blaze, saves neighbors.

It's Kekko Kamen! From NY Daily News:
One moment she was tanning herself by the pool, the next Tash Bennett was saving her fellow neighbors from a fire - while topless.

The Australian fitness instructor had been enjoying the afternoon sun when she noticed a palm tree had caught fire, Australia's Northern Territory News reported.

"I was just lying there when some ash fell on top of me," she said. "I wasn't really paying attention because I was listening to my iPod."

Fearing it could ignite the building, she snapped into action. Bennett quickly ran to the reception area for help, then went back to the pool to use a hose to battle the blaze.

She didn't realize until several minutes later that she had failed to put her top back on.

"I was sunbaking. I wasn't exactly prepared," Bennett said. "But you've got to put out the fire before you deal with that."

She may not have noticed her missing bikini top, but that didn't stop others from seeing the half-naked woman putting out a fire for several minutes.