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Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Toon: Muhammed, Jesus and Buddah walk into a bar...

Fulton school chief to Georgia Legislature: Raise teacher pay. Lower time spent on testing.

Fulton Superintendent Robert Avossa runs one of the most successful school districts in the state. In a recent ranking of best high schools in Georgia, Fulton had four in the top 20.

So, he tends to get heard when he speaks.

And Avossa is speaking out more. Last year, he took a strong stand on the confusing state of high school math in Georgia.

Now, Avossa is speaking out about testing and teaching. Here is a letter he sent to legislators on the first of the session:

An Open Letter to Our Georgia Legislators:

As superintendent of Fulton County Schools, I’ve met with thousands of teachers, parents, students and community members over the past four years and have listened to their thoughts, concerns and ideas.

I’m writing this letter because I feel it’s important to share their collective story. As you begin the 2015 legislative session today, there will be many agencies making a case for additional funding.

I ask that you think about education as an investment rather than as a budget item and urge you to focus on a few big areas:



Luckovich Toon- Easily Distracted


Republican senator Ted Cruz to oversee Nasa in Congress

Senator Ted Cruz will chair the committee that oversees science and Nasa in the new Republican-controlled Congress, raising fears that the conservative Texan will cut funding to the space agency and science programs.

Cruz’s appointment to the space, science and competitiveness subcommittee comes amid a broad shift of power in the Senate, where the GOP won a majority in the 2014 midterm elections. Cruz was the top Republican on the subcommittee before the elections.

He has publicly stated support for Nasa but has also attempted at least once to cut the agency’s funding, arguing that larger government cuts necessitated changes to the space program’s budget. In 2013, Cruz both tried to reduce Nasa’s budget and said: “It’s critical that the United States ensure its continued leadership in space.”

Cruz has constituents invested in the space agency’s future – for instance, Nasa employees and contractors at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.



Unpaid interns charged £300 for a job reference

A former aide to a Liberal Democrat peer has been condemned for charging former unpaid interns at his thinktank “£300 a go” for employment references.

Jan Mortier, who describes himself as a former consultant to Lord Garden, a one-time defence spokesman for Nick Clegg’s party, has admitted that he charges former unpaid trainees at his Civitatis International organisation for references, but denied that they had been interns, on the basis that they had been “trained directly” by him.

Civitatis International advertises itself as a private foundation “committed to promoting peace, dialogue and co-operation between nations and civilisations”, and has submitted evidence to parliamentary select committees as a thinktank. Until a year ago it ran a “junior associates” programme under which young people were charged over £1,600 for a three-month “unique experience in project management training at our international secretariat in the City of London that was instituted by us because British universities are not giving the skills or experience necessary to help young people secure careers in the policy sector”.

The junior associates programme, which did not offer a recognised qualification at the end or a guaranteed job, had been advertised on a website called Internwise, among others, which promotes itself as a “tool ideal to meet employers and gain some work experience”. At least one former junior associate has posted an online CV describing his role at Civitatis International as an “internship”. Civitatis invites “successful” junior associates to pay an additional £400 to £600 a year to become fellows of the organisation, which it describes as a private members’ club for “future leaders”.


Charges: Woman passed out in trooper's driveway said address is '28780 I'm Drunk'

In a press release about holiday-time DWI arrests distributed yesterday, the State Patrol singled out a Freeborn County woman who was found passed out in a state trooper's driveway with an ungodly BAC of .45.

Some sleuthing revealed that the woman in question is 48-year-old Clarks Grove resident Rhonda Oquist.

According to DWI charges filed against Oquist, the incident happened about 5:40 p.m. on December 7. The trooper's boyfriend called police from the trooper's house in Hartland to report that a woman he'd seen earlier at a bar was passed out in the driveway. He said he had no idea who she was.

A deputy arrived at the scene and knocked on the driver's side window of the car, which was still running. When he asked the dazed woman for her address, she offered up the following -- "28780 I'm Drunk."



BPA alternative disrupts normal brain-cell growth, is tied to hyperactivity

In a groundbreaking new study, researchers have shown why a chemical once thought to be a safe alternative to bisphenol-A, which was banned by the government for baby bottles and sippy cups, might itself be more harmful than BPA.

University of Calgary scientists say they believe their research is the first to show that bisphenol-S, an ingredient in many products bearing “BPA-free” labels, causes abnormal growth surges of neurons in an animal embryo.

This disruption of prenatal cellular activity in zebra fish, which share 80 percent of their genes with humans and are considered a good model for studying human brain development, has been directly linked to hyperactivity, according to the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Finding the mechanism linking low doses of BPA (or BPS) to adverse brain development and hyperactivity is almost like finding a smoking gun,” Hamid Habibi, one of the authors of the study, said in a news release.


An avocado a day may help keep bad cholesterol at bay

Eating one avocado a day as part of a heart healthy, cholesterol-lowering moderate-fat diet can help improve bad cholesterol levels in overweight and obese individuals, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers evaluated the effect avocados had on traditional and novel cardiovascular risk factors by replacing saturated fatty acids from an average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids from avocados.

Forty-five healthy, overweight or obese patients between the ages of 21 and 70 were put on three different cholesterol-lowering diets. Participants consumed an average American diet (consisting of 34 percent of calories from fat, 51 percent carbohydrates, and 16 percent protein) for two weeks prior to starting one of the following cholesterol lowering diets: lower fat diet without avocado, moderate-fat diet without avocado, and moderate-fat diet with one avocado per day. The two moderate fat diets both provided 34 percent of calories as fat (17 percent of calories from monounsaturated fatty acids/MUFAs), whereas the lower fat diet provided 24 percent of calories as fat (11 percent from MUFAs). Each participant consumed each of the three test diet for five weeks. Participants were randomly sequenced through each of the three diets.



United studies outsourcing up to 2,000 airport jobs

United Continental Holdings Inc. on Monday said it may outsource up to 2,000 jobs at 28 U.S. airports, including Atlanta, Miami, St. Louis and West Palm Beach, Fla., to vendors who would perform the duties at lower cost.

The jobs employ workers in areas including check-in, baggage-handling and customer service, and all of the personnel are represented by the International Association of Machinists union.

In 2013, United, trying to lower its costs, turned to vendors at six U.S. airports and three in Canada, affecting nearly 500 jobs. Last fall, it outsourced about 635 jobs at 12 additional U.S. airports. But some 200 workers at three small airports in Hawaii voted to accept concessions to keep their jobs. Now, in its latest salvo, United is potentially targeting a far large number of workers and locations.

The Chicago-based company UAL, +0.89% the nation’s No. 2 carrier by traffic, said it provided official notice to the employees and the IAM on Monday. But United said it is in discussions with the union about how it could keep some of those jobs within the airline.


Proposal wants to make Bible Mississippi's state book

During this state election year, some lawmakers are proposing to designate the Bible the official state book of Mississippi.

Rep. Tom Miles of Forest says he and fellow Democratic Rep. Michael Evans of Preston are filing a bill, and they already have received bipartisan promises of support from more than 20 of their colleagues.

Miles says Mississippi has a state bird, a state flower and even a state toy, so it should have a state book.

He tells The Associated Press on Monday that he's not trying to force religion — or even reading — on anyone, but he sees the Bible as a good guide for promoting kindness and compassion.

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