Monday, June 9, 2014

#HEADLINES: NSA Could Spy More Under Reform Bill, Student Heroes in Seattle University Shooting, China's Miserable Environmental Report, Scientists Race to Save Doomed Coral, Egypt Criminalizes Sexual Harassment, Sao Paolo Metro Strike, New York Prison Education Program

Scott Olson / Getty Images
The NSA Could Actually Spy on More Phone Calls Under Reform Bill -- National Journal
"Last month, the House passed the USA Freedom Act, which would force the NSA to give up its massive database of phone records, which contains phone numbers and timestamps of millions of landline calls. Under the bill, the NSA would have to receive court approval for each search of a phone company's records.

"But the legislation includes a provision that would require the phone companies to provide 'technical assistance' to help the NSA collect the data in a readable format.

"That provision could allow the NSA to more easily access millions of cell-phone records, according to Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy-advocacy group."


KING-TV
Officials Hail Hero Students in Seattle Pacific University Shooting -- NBC News
"The gunman walked into the lobby and fired multiple gunshots, said police Capt. Chris Fowler, the incident commander. When he stopped to reload, a student security guard subdued the man by pepper-spraying him and taking him to the ground, where he was pinned by other students until authorities arrived, Fowler said.
...
"Washington Gov. Jay Inslee [praised] the 'students who put themselves in real danger to protect classmates from further violence and to aid and comfort the victims.'

"'Those selfless and brave acts should remind us of the indomitable spirit of young people,' Inslee said in a statement."


William Hong / Reuters
China's annual state of the environment report is miserable -- Quartz
"-Of 4,788 groundwater sites tests, 59.6% of them had 'poor' or 'very poor' water quality.

"-Of 74 cities where air quality was tested, only three met the government's urban air quality standards.

"-In the southern part of China and along the Yangtze River, acid rain falls on 11% of the land.

"-About 19% of China's 'offshore' water, meaning the seawater along its coast, is so polluted that it is unsafe for human beings to go in or eat fish from."


University of Miami
Scientists race to save coral doomed by Government Cut dredging -- Miami Herald
"The coral, which may hold clues about how sea life adapts to climate change, is growing in Government Cut. The channel, created more than a century ago, leads to PortMiami and is undergoing a $205 million dredging project — scheduled to begin Saturday — to deepen the sea floor by about 10 feet in time for a wave of new monster cargo ships cruising through an expanded Panama Canal starting in 2015.

"Endangered coral and larger coral have already been removed by a team hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the dredging work.

"But the remaining coral, deemed 'corals of opportunity' in Corps lingo, can be retrieved with a permit. The problem, scientists say, is they only had 12 days between when the permits were issued last month and the start of dredging, not nearly enough time to save the unusual colonies thriving in Government Cut."


Reuters
Sexual harassment made a crime in Egypt -- Al Jazeera English
"The decree defines harassment as any sexual or pornographic suggestion or hints through words, signs or acts, until now the country has not had a law defining sexual harassment.

"The decree amended the country's current law, which did not criminalise sexual harassment and only vaguely referred to such offences as indecent assault.

"A minimum two-year jail term was introduced for harassers who hold a position of power over their victim, is in uniform or is armed with a weapon. Penalties would double for repeat offenders.

"Egypt has witnessed a jump in sexual assaults since the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak from the presidency, with large numbers of mob attacks on women during political protests. "


Chico Ferreira / Reuters
Sao Paulo metro strike to continue Monday despite court ruling -- Reuters
"Sao Paulo's metro workers voted to stay off work for a fifth day on Monday even after a court declared the strike illegal, complicating preparations for the World Cup opening match.

"Another vote on the strike was scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m. local time (1600 GMT), after a rally in downtown Sao Paulo in which they will be joined by homeless' workers and other social movements.

"'The (metro workers') union sent an official request to President Dilma Rousseff asking her to help the category reopen talks with the (Sao Paulo) state government,' which controls the subway system, the union said in a note on Sunday.

"A court on Sunday set a 500,000 reais penalty ($223,000) for each day they stay off work from Monday. It also declared the strike illegal, paving the way for state-owned Companhia do Metropolitano de Sao Paulo to lay off striking workers.

"Metro workers' demand a 12 percent pay rise, but Metro has offered 8.7 percent."


Richard Perry / New York Times
Prison Program Turns Inmates Into Intellectuals -- New York Times
"On the day I visited Otisville, another student, Devon Simmons, read a skillfully argued piece he wrote on the importance of financing prison education (which experienced an unfortunate reversal 20 years ago when inmates became ineligible for federal Pell grants), remarking that he and his fellow students at Otisville had managed to excel despite the absence of Power Point lectures and Wikipedia — most technology, especially Internet access, is forbidden. The essay won him an award in a writing contest in which he competed with traditional students at John Jay. (His sister accepted it for him.)

"Despite the worthy case he was making, many members of the State Legislature opposed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's plan to include financing for prison education in his most recent budget, and the governor dropped it. Mr. Cuomo is now seeking private financing for the initiative.

"For far too long we have thought about prison education almost exclusively in terms of the reduced recidivism it produces, which study after study has shown to be evident. But in some sense this is an inadequate metric and paradigm, neglecting the kinds of economic and social opportunities that are and should be available to prisoners who pursue and complete higher learning. As Ms. Dreisinger put it, 'These guys reoffending is really the last thing I’m worried about.'

"The more urgent and compelling question now is whether and how quickly they find work worthy of their achievements. The Bard Prison Initiative, begun in 1999, which provides a Bard College education to prisoners in New York State, has reported that two-thirds of program alumni are employed, finishing college degrees or enrolled in graduate school, including at New York University, Columbia and Yale. Most who are working are doing so in social service, which is also true of the graduates of another program in New York, known as College and Community Fellowship, that helps women leaving prison finish college."

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