News highlights for January 11, 2011

CisionPoint news monitoring provides this small sampling of the university's daily news coverage. Click headline to read full text via Cision or link directly to the online article where available. For questions or comments about this service, or to add or delete a name from the mailing list, please contact Gerry Everding.

CQ Today

Politicians plan strategies aimed at changing filibuster rules in Congress

In an attempt to avoid a knock-down partisan battle over proposals to overcome Senate filibusters with a simple majority vote, Democrats proposed changes Wednesday that would take more-modest steps to reduce the minority’s power to slow or block Senate action. “They are significant, but they are not going to radically change the Senate,” said Steven S. Smith, a political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis. “This reflects the fact that there’s not a majority of the Senate that supports simple-majority cloture or moving closer to it.” Read Full Text / LiveScience

Neanderthal life spans similar to modern humans


Those who investigate Neanderthal remains have long known of a puzzling gap — elderly individuals are rare. Scientists have thus suggested that these prehistoric humans might have had an inherently shorter life expectancy than us modern humans, with our lineage ultimately outnumbering theirs, and so contributing to their demise. Not so, according to a new study by Anthropologist Erik Trinkaus at Washington University in St. Louis. “Arguments for longer survival among early modern humans causing the demise of the Neandertals have no basis in fact,” Trinkaus said. Link to Article See also Discovery News, CBS News, Live Science .

Related news release

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Leadership, not money, was heart of Danforth Foundation’s impact

The Danforth Foundation, a leading actor in St. Louis philanthropy for decades, is making its curtain call. Its final act, a $70 million gift to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, is drawing rave reviews, but we can’t watch this important institution leave the stage without feeling a sense of loss. Brothers John C. Danforth, a former U.S. senator, and Dr. William Danforth, a former chancellor of Washington University, don’t just spread money around. They talk about community problems, and they champion solutions. Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Lawsuit challenges hospital billing practices

A local factory worker has sued Washington University in St. Louis, accusing the university’s doctors and other Missouri health care providers of routinely and illegally over-billing for medical services. The suit, which seeks class-action status, was filed Friday. It asks for actual and punitive damages based on allegations that thousands of insured patients have sustained financial losses and damages as a result of such billing practices. Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Opinion: Why the people of southern Sudan are voting for freedom

The south Sudanese will soon vote in a referendum across Sudan and in eight other countries, including the United States, to decide whether to become independent, writes Nhial T. Tutla, a research coordinator at Washington University School of Medicine who is originally from southern Sudan. Sudan, the largest country in Africa, has been embroiled in a nasty civil war for most of the last 50 years. Tutla details many reasons why she believes the south Sudanese will vote overwhelmingly for secession. Link to Article

St. Louis Beacon

Release of ex-CIA agent before hearing poses danger to agents, national security, argues government


The government argues that former CIA agent Jeffrey A. Sterling should be locked up while awaiting trial on espionage because he poses a danger to CIA agents and to national security. Sterling, a Washington University Law School graduate, has been indicted on 10 criminal counts for leaking classified information to a newspaper reporter — apparently James Risen of the New York Times. Risen wrote a book describing a botched CIA intelligence operation involving Iran’s nuclear program. Link to Article

St. Louis Beacon

Resolved: Debate improves students’ abilities


The high school level Urban Debate League, now in its third year in St. Louis, has almost doubled its membership from last year as a result of extra energy devoted to bringing in new people. Ravi Rao, executive director of St. Louis’s Urban Debate League (UDL), said his efforts were prompted by studies that correlate participating in debate during high school with job retention rates and skill improvement. As student director of debate at Washington University, Ravi Rao was among the college debaters hired to work with UDL schools as an assistant debate coach. Link to Article

Daily Northwestern
Student-run website seeks to showcase Northwestern students

In 2009, students at Northwestern University launched, a website of student-produced videos that aims to linkup students with similar interests and showcase their talents. The majority of the website consists of video profiles of Northwestern students. The founders want to see move to other campuses. It already has an affiliated program at Washington University in St. Louis, Link to Article

News in Higher Education

Students in Debt: $1 Trillion Hole and More Dropouts


Student debt in America has surged past $1 trillion, surpassing credit card borrowing and promising to turn out the most hocked generation of college graduates in history. For a great many of these grads things will work out fine. But the downside is considerable, especially when you combine student loans with unmanageable credit card debts and lump in a plain-vanilla degree that may not lead to a high-paying job anytime soon. Link to Article

New York Times

U.S.: As Mental Troubles Arise, Limited Options for Institutions

Even in the wake of the Virginia Tech murders, experts say institutions and employers are seldom set up to handle such potential threats. Link to Article

Science Insider

Energy Officials: Science Law Obama Signed Bolsters Research


The America COMPETES Act, signed on Tuesday by President Barack Obama, is light on specifics about the Department of Energy (DOE), but officials at that agency are grateful that the wide-ranging research and education legislation authorizes steady increases for physical science research. The partisan process which created it bodes poorly on the prospects for actually getting the increases it endorses, however, and the new law fails to mention many research and education programs whose inclusion might have helped department officials make the case for their funding. Link to Article

New York Times

Is law school a losing game? Deans say graduates are working. They don’t say how many are at Home Depot.

A generation of J.D.’s face the grimmest job market in decades. Since 2008, some 15,000 attorney and legal-staff jobs at large firms have vanished, according to a Northwestern Law study. Associates have been laid off, partners nudged out the door and recruitment programs have been scaled back or eliminated. But improbably enough, law schools have concluded that life for newly minted grads is getting sweeter, at least by one crucial measure — a statistic called “graduates known to be employed nine months after graduation.” Link to Article

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