Browsing articles from "September, 2014"

Gustavo Cerati: Listeners Look Back At A Latin Rock Legend

Sep 18, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Gustavo Cerati: Listeners Look Back At A Latin Rock Legend

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Argentine musician Gustavo Cerati performs in the Dominican Republic in 2007.

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Argentine musician Gustavo Cerati performs in the Dominican Republic in 2007.

Argentine musician Gustavo Cerati performs in the Dominican Republic in 2007.

Ricardo Hernandez/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, we were shaken by the death of Latin rock legend Gustavo Cerati, who died in his native Argentina on Sept. 4 after spending several years in a coma following a stroke. When we found out, we were just sitting down to record Alt.Latino. We decided that, rather than putting together a last-minute tribute, we should give this music legend the proper farewell he deserved. So we invited listeners and friends to share their most important Cerati moments with us.

The musicians we play on this show all owe some sort of debt to Cerati: In the ’80s, with his band Soda Stereo, he helped create the Latin American rock legend. Rock music had been heard in parts of the continent, but the idea of a band touring the land and attracting tens of thousands of fans was unheard of. Soda Stereo ushered in the golden era of Spanish-language rock.

In the late ’90s, Soda Stereo broke up, and Cerati embarked on a fruitful and creative solo career that continued to push boundaries and blow us away.

Join me and my friend Ernesto Lechner, co-host of a fantastic show called The Latin Alternative, as we reminisce about growing up in Argentina during the golden years of Soda Stereo, the band’s best work, and the genius of Gustavo Cerati.

Gustavo Cerati: Listeners Look Back At A Latin Rock Legend

Sep 18, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Gustavo Cerati: Listeners Look Back At A Latin Rock Legend

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Argentine musician Gustavo Cerati performs in the Dominican Republic in 2007.

Ricardo Hernandez/AFP/Getty Images


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Ricardo Hernandez/AFP/Getty Images

Argentine musician Gustavo Cerati performs in the Dominican Republic in 2007.

Argentine musician Gustavo Cerati performs in the Dominican Republic in 2007.

Ricardo Hernandez/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this month, we were shaken by the death of Latin rock legend Gustavo Cerati, who died in his native Argentina on Sept. 4 after spending several years in a coma following a stroke. When we found out, we were just sitting down to record Alt.Latino. We decided that, rather than putting together a last-minute tribute, we should give this music legend the proper farewell he deserved. So we invited listeners and friends to share their most important Cerati moments with us.

The musicians we play on this show all owe some sort of debt to Cerati: In the ’80s, with his band Soda Stereo, he helped create the Latin American rock legend. Rock music had been heard in parts of the continent, but the idea of a band touring the land and attracting tens of thousands of fans was unheard of. Soda Stereo ushered in the golden era of Spanish-language rock.

In the late ’90s, Soda Stereo broke up, and Cerati embarked on a fruitful and creative solo career that continued to push boundaries and blow us away.

Join me and my friend Ernesto Lechner, co-host of a fantastic show called The Latin Alternative, as we reminisce about growing up in Argentina during the golden years of Soda Stereo, the band’s best work, and the genius of Gustavo Cerati.

Doctor Says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Has ‘Rare … Difficult’ Cancer

Sep 18, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Doctor Says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Has ‘Rare … Difficult’ Cancer

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in December 2013.i
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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in December 2013.

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in December 2013.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in December 2013.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who made international news after he admitted to smoking crack, has cancer.

That’s according to his doctor, a colorectal surgeon, who confirmed the diagnosis during a press conference on Wednesday.

The Toronto Star reports:

“Dr. Zane Cohen, the renowned colorectal surgeon, said Wednesday that Ford has a malignant liposarcoma. He will be treated with chemotherapy, Cohen said.

“Cohen would not say what the chances are of a full recovery. He said he is ‘optimistic,’ but he also said Ford has a ‘very rare tumour and a very difficult tumour.’

“The tumour is ‘fairly aggressive,’ he said, and has likely been present for two or three years. It is about 12 centimetres by 12 centimetres. The cancer is not in the colon or liver.”

As we reported, after a long and sometimes bizarre year, Ford gave up on his re-election bid. His brother Doug will run in his place.

Two More NFL Players Placed On ‘Exempt List’ Over Domestic Violence

Sep 18, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Two More NFL Players Placed On ‘Exempt List’ Over Domestic Violence

Carolina Panthers' Greg Hardy waves to fans as he arrives for an NFL football practice in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 11, 2014.i
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Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy waves to fans as he arrives for an NFL football practice in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 11, 2014.

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Carolina Panthers' Greg Hardy waves to fans as he arrives for an NFL football practice in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 11, 2014.

Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy waves to fans as he arrives for an NFL football practice in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 11, 2014.

Chuck Burton/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Two more players were benched by NFL teams on Wednesday over allegations of domestic violence.

First, the Carolina Panthers placed their star defensive end Greg Hardy on the exempt list and then the Arizona Cardinals deactivated running back Jonathan Dwyer.

As ESPN reports, Hardy was benched because he “was found guilty by a judge in July of assaulting and threatening his ex-girlfriend.” Hardy appealed that decision and is facing a jury trial that begins Nov. 17.

According to the Arizona Republic, Dwyer was arrested by police on Wednesday after they received allegations that he assaulted his wife in July.

The paper reports:

“Police said the woman left the state with the child shortly after the incident. Phoenix police investigators took a report on the incident on Sept. 11 and detectives have been seeking out-of-state medical records and interviewing witnesses, according to a Phoenix police spokesman.

“Police accuse Dwyer of aggravated assault over a fracture in addition to an allegation of aggravated assault involving a minor in addition to criminal damage and preventing the use of a phone during an emergency.”

Of course, this wouldn’t be news if, as we reported, the start of the NFL season hadn’t already been “marred by criminal cases that link two of its stars — [Adrian] Peterson and Ray Rice — to violent off-field episodes.”

Both Hardy and Dwyer will receive full pay while they wait for their cases to work their way through the justice system.

KING Makes A Record Lover’s Paradise Even Better

Sep 17, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on KING Makes A Record Lover’s Paradise Even Better

On a steamy morning upstairs in a record lover’s paradise KING laid down a gorgeous version of one of the songs that lit up Twitter three years ago and put the trio on Prince’s radar. Sisters Paris and Amber Strother and partner Anita Bias couldn’t believe it when he asked to meet them, but now they think nothing of calling up the legend while they work on their first full-length album.

Everyone involved was in New Orleans to play the Essence Music Festival, which Prince headlined. But away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, out of the shadow of the Superdome, KING put on a different type of show. While customers quietly thumbed through LPs — then stopped to stare — the singers gently and precisely intertwined their three voices in service of a love song.

Set List
  • “Supernatural”
Credits

Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Frannie Kelley; Event Producer: Saidah Blount; Videographers: Mito Habe-Evans, Colin Marshall, Olivia Merrion; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Editor: Colin Marshall; Special Thanks: Euclid Records, Mark and Rachel Dibner of the Argus Fund; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann

Want To Learn About The Scientific Method? Go Bake Some Cookies

Sep 17, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Want To Learn About The Scientific Method? Go Bake Some Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies can be the gateway to a better understanding of the scientific method.i
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Chocolate chip cookies can be the gateway to a better understanding of the scientific method.

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Chocolate chip cookies can be the gateway to a better understanding of the scientific method.

Chocolate chip cookies can be the gateway to a better understanding of the scientific method.

iStockphoto

Bethany Brookshire, a.k.a. @SciCurious, is a blogger at ScienceNews where she covers the latest science research and develops creative science outreach projects.

Bethany Brookshire believes the scientific method is best when baked.i
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Bethany Brookshire believes the scientific method is best when baked.

Bethany Brookshire/Society for Science the Public


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Bethany Brookshire believes the scientific method is best when baked.

Bethany Brookshire believes the scientific method is best when baked.

Bethany Brookshire/Society for Science the Public

She’s recently started her own project, the deliciously named Cookie Science, which aims to illustrate the scientific method by creating what she hopes will be a tasty gluten-free cookie for a friend.

She tells The Salt how the project is more than just developing a recipe for a sweet treat.

This QA has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Why did you decide to start Cookie Science?

I was looking for projects that would work really well to demonstrate the scientific method and it occurred to me that I wanted something really accessible, that people could do along with me if they wanted. And cooking — well, it’s as close as your kitchen. And I bake a lot of cookies.

A natural marriage.

Yeah, it feeds my habit. I started this blog series called Cookie Science where I’m actually designing and carrying out a scientific experiment using cookies. And the ideas that I used: coming up with a hypothesis, different kinds of statistical tests, how you design an experiment, reading the scientific literature, this is the sort of thing that can be applied to any idea. It doesn’t have to be cookies. Cookies are just a delicious vehicle.

That’s the really interesting thing – why you would choose food in the first place?

I know that one of the great things about baking, and I bake a lot, is that when you make a single change — for example, the change I made in my first experiment was switching to gluten-free flour. That one change drastically changed your cookie. It’s huge. Literally. You get a really huge, flat cookie.

It’s so great to be able, when you’re starting out with a scientific experiment, to be able to really see the changes that you’re making. It gives you something you can quantify and it gives you something that you can really see, science as it happens.

I was reading your blog posts and they’re incredibly detailed in the scientific method. How did you decide what parts you were going to include? Those are things that normally people wouldn’t think about.

Brookshire color-codes her cookie dough. That way, she knows which dough is which, but her tasters don't, eliminating potential bias.i
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Brookshire color-codes her cookie dough. That way, she knows which dough is which, but her tasters don’t, eliminating potential bias.

Bethany Brookshire/Society for Science the Public


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Bethany Brookshire/Society for Science the Public

Brookshire color-codes her cookie dough. That way, she knows which dough is which, but her tasters don't, eliminating potential bias.

Brookshire color-codes her cookie dough. That way, she knows which dough is which, but her tasters don’t, eliminating potential bias.

Bethany Brookshire/Society for Science the Public

I decided to include them because they are so important to think about. When people think about science, you know you see all the time, online, these memes of “this person did science with cookies” and they’ll have a photo of eight different cookies and this is the cookie with all brown sugar, and this is the cookie with unmelted butter, or something. And that’s cool, that’s definitely science of cookies. But it’s not the scientific method. It’s not how an experiment is carried out.

Taking out one ingredient and baking it up and then taking a picture, that’s not an experiment. It’s cool, but it’s not an experiment. And so I really wanted to document if you were going to do a real scientific experiment, this is how you would do it. This is what scientists do every day. And this is how they do it. I also wanted to take the chance to show the things that scientists have to go through on a daily basis. You can’t just walk out and say hey people, I need to test this new drug or this new cookie and get a bunch of volunteers. It does not work that way. So it’s a great opportunity to showcase what really happens in science, using cookies.

Engineering the perfect cookie: You can control the diameter and thickness of your favorite chocolate chip cookies by changing the temperature of the butter and the amount of flour in the dough.

What kind of feedback have you gotten so far on the project?

Don't let your beautiful relationship with science run up on the rocks just because of the occasional contradiction or misunderstanding. Take a minute to try and see things from another perspective.

I’m really excited that several people have contacted me to say that they’re going to follow along and they’re gonna bake up the experiment with me, which is wonderful. I don’t expect everyone to get approval to test on humans, necessarily. But there are aspects that I am measuring for things like “cookie spread,” how big the cookie gets, and things like that, that if you follow my recipe, you may be able to replicate my results. And I hope that they will. That’s a really important part of science that I want to make sure that they can experience as well.

What do you hope people will take away from this project?

This is what Brookshire says cookie science looks like.i
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This is what Brookshire says cookie science looks like.

Bethany Brookshire/Society for Science the Public


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Bethany Brookshire/Society for Science the Public

This is what Brookshire says cookie science looks like.

This is what Brookshire says cookie science looks like.

Bethany Brookshire/Society for Science the Public

I hope that people will take away a very clear picture of what happens during a scientific experiment — how people go about conducting science. I also hope they come away with the impression that a science experiment is as easy as walking into your kitchen, looking around, and asking a question. Do you want to know how long a pork chop takes to cook at different temperatures? Or in different areas of your oven? You can design that experiment, and so I want to use cookies to show that this can apply to anything in your kitchen and you can make science out of anything.

This isn’t your first foray into creative science outreach. You also run your Twitter handle, @SciCurious, with nearly 32,000 followers. May 2013 was the first time identified yourself [there by name]. How did that play into your science education and outreach persona?

It’s mostly been useful. I think it’s really increased my outreach – people can go and say, well, who is this person, and they can see previous work I’ve done. If they are concerned, they can go and they can look at my scientific publication record if they really want to. I don’t recommend it, but they can.

Do you feel [the reveal has given] you more credibility?

I would like to think that the credibility of what I write stands on its own, especially now that I’m working to become a science journalist. But I do think some people really do like to know about science backgrounds.

And in this case, chef experience might be helpful.

Yeah, sadly. I’m an okay baker, but I set off the fire alarms a lot more than I would like to admit.

Dr. Kent Brantly: Ebola Survivor Gives Testimony On The Hill

Sep 17, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Dr. Kent Brantly: Ebola Survivor Gives Testimony On The Hill

Dr. Kent Brantly was medical director at Monrovia's only Ebola treatment center when he fell ill with the disease in July. He survived after being evacuated and treated in the United States.i
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Dr. Kent Brantly was medical director at Monrovia’s only Ebola treatment center when he fell ill with the disease in July. He survived after being evacuated and treated in the United States.

Courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse


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Courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

Dr. Kent Brantly was medical director at Monrovia's only Ebola treatment center when he fell ill with the disease in July. He survived after being evacuated and treated in the United States.

Dr. Kent Brantly was medical director at Monrovia’s only Ebola treatment center when he fell ill with the disease in July. He survived after being evacuated and treated in the United States.

Courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

Dr. Kent Brantly, a U.S. medical missionary who contracted Ebola in July while working as a doctor in Liberia and survived the deadly disease after treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, appeared at a joint Senate hearing today examining the Ebola outbreak.

In testimony prepared for the hearing, Brantly described the challenges and difficulties of working in what was already a “woefully inadequate healthcare system of a country still struggling to recover from a brutal civil war.” He “witnessed the horror that this disease visits upon its victims — the intense pain and humiliation of those who suffer with it, the irrational fear and superstition that pervades communities, and the violence and unrest that now threatens entire nations.”

When he fell ill on July 23, “I came to understand firsthand what my own patients had suffered,” Brantly said. “I was isolated from my family and I was unsure if I would ever see them again. Even though I knew most of my caretakers, I could see nothing but their eyes through their protective goggles… I experienced the humiliation of losing control of my bodily functions and faced the horror of vomiting blood—a sign of the internal bleeding that could have eventually led to my death.”

Treating Ebola patients, he said, “is not like caring for other patients. It is grueling work. The personal protective equipment we wore … becomes excruciatingly hot, with temperatures inside the suit reaching up to 115 degrees. It cannot be worn for more than an hour and a half.”

Brantly’s hospital, the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, was the capital’s only Ebola treatment center when the disease broke out and was quickly overwhelmed. In the month and a half he was treating Ebola cases there, he told the panel, there was only one survivor.

“The disease was spiraling out of control,” he said, “and it was clear we were not equipped to fight it effectively on our own. We began to call for more international assistance, but our pleas seemed to fall on deaf ears.”

The laboratory his hospital relied on to confirm the presence of Ebola in patients “was 45 minutes away and inadequately staffed,” he said. “A patient would arrive at our center in the afternoon and their blood specimen would not be collected until the following morning. We would receive results later that night at the earliest. Turnaround time to positively identify Ebola cases was anywhere from 12 to 36 hours after blood was drawn”—a potentially life-threatening delay. Patients languished in the isolation unit while waiting for diagnosis, potentially infecting others while they waited.

Brantly criticized the World Health Organization’s response to the Ebola outbreak as “painfully slow and ineffective … It is imperative that the U.S. take the lead instead of relying on other agencies.” The military, he said, is the “only force capable of mounting an immediate, large-scale offensive to defeat this virus before it lays waste to all of west Africa.” Given the dearth of commercial flights into Ebola-affected countries, one of the most important things the military can do would be to establish an “‘air bridge’ for the delivery of critically needed personnel and supplies… we cannot turn the tide of this disease without regular flights of personnel and large cargo loads of equipment and supplies.”

Brantly also emphasized the need to “consider the role of home care as we seek to stop the transmission of Ebola,” urging training and supplies for home caregivers, especially since “many infected people are choosing to suffer and die at home anyway. The least we can do is to try to give their caregivers the information and resources to protect themselves from this deadly virus.”

One of the most moving parts of his testimony was the story of a patient in Liberia named Francis.

“Initially, the lab told us that he was positive for Ebola, but the written report we received said ‘Negative,'” Brantly said. “Everything about his clinical case said that he was infected, so we made plans to retest him. We then received word that there was a typo on the first report and that his test was indeed positive.

“Like most patients at first, he was fearful, but he eventually shared the story of how he contracted the disease. ‘Doc, I remember who the man was,’ he said. ‘His condition worsened in his home, and his wife made the decision to take him to the hospital. Everyone around them fled, so I helped his wife carry him to the taxi.’ On his way to the hospital that man died. Had someone come alongside Francis with training and some basic personal protective equipment, his family might still have their husband, father and son, and the world might still have this Good Samaritan.”

Brantly said that he was one of the luckiest ones, receiving “the best care possible in Liberia … and world-class treatment” in the United States. But, he warned, the outbreak is “a fire straight from the pit of hell. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that the vast moat of the Atlantic Ocean will keep the flames away from our shores.”

Boeing And SpaceX Win $6.8 Billion In NASA Contracts

Sep 17, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Boeing And SpaceX Win $6.8 Billion In NASA Contracts

In an image provided by NASA, astronaut Randy Bresnik prepares to enter Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft for an evaluation at the company's Houston Product Support Center. NASA awarded Boeing with a $4.2 billion contract Tuesday.i
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In an image provided by NASA, astronaut Randy Bresnik prepares to enter Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft for an evaluation at the company’s Houston Product Support Center. NASA awarded Boeing with a $4.2 billion contract Tuesday.

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In an image provided by NASA, astronaut Randy Bresnik prepares to enter Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft for an evaluation at the company's Houston Product Support Center. NASA awarded Boeing with a $4.2 billion contract Tuesday.

In an image provided by NASA, astronaut Randy Bresnik prepares to enter Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft for an evaluation at the company’s Houston Product Support Center. NASA awarded Boeing with a $4.2 billion contract Tuesday.

AP

NASA has chosen Boeing and SpaceX to build the vehicles that will transport its astronauts to the International Space Station, putting the two American companies on a course to take over a job that NASA has recently relied upon Russia to perform: carrying out manned space flights.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says vehicles from the two companies are expected to be ready for service by 2017.

Announcing its decision Tuesday, the space agency included these details:

“The Boeing Company (Boeing) and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) have each presented to us designs that will allow us to fly crews to the International Space Station in just a few years. Respectively, the vehicles are Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon. The total potential contract value is $4.2 billion for Boeing and $2.6 billion for SpaceX. The spacecraft will launch from Kennedy Space Center — Cape Canaveral complex.”

NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce reports on the priorities behind the space agency’s move:

“Since NASA retired its space shuttles three years ago, astronauts have gone to the station in Russian space capsules. But the agency wants to launch crews from U.S. soil. It’s been focusing its efforts on deep space exploration, so it needs commercial companies to build vehicles that can make the short trip to the station and back.”

Versions of the SpaceX Dragon capsule have already made flights to the space station, becoming the first commercial company to deliver cargo to the orbiting station back in 2012.

Boeing says it’ll build its CST-100 capsule in Florida. The company also hopes to provide the craft to commercial companies that are planning to take private citizens into space.

Before they’re put into service, the two capsules would need to meet safety certifications that include a test flight carrying a crew.

BP Lawyers Use Old-School Trick; Judge Not Amused

Sep 16, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on BP Lawyers Use Old-School Trick; Judge Not Amused

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier ruled nearly two weeks ago that BP acted recklessly in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig accident and oil spill.i
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U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier ruled nearly two weeks ago that BP acted recklessly in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig accident and oil spill.

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U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier ruled nearly two weeks ago that BP acted recklessly in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig accident and oil spill.

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier ruled nearly two weeks ago that BP acted recklessly in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig accident and oil spill.

Alastair Grant/AP

Back in school, did you ever fudge the spacing on a report to meet the teacher’s page-length requirement? Lawyers representing oil company BP tried something similar in a recent court filing connected to the company’s 2010 drilling rig accident and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier was not amused. In his ruling Monday, Barbier issued an order and then reminded BP’s lawyers that their brief was supposed to be limited to 35 pages, double-spaced:

“BP’s counsel filed a brief that, at first blush, appeared just within the 35-page limit. A closer study reveals that BP’s counsel abused the page limit by reducing the line spacing to slightly less than double-spaced. As a result, BP exceeded the (already enlarged) page limit by roughly six pages.”

“The Court should not have to waste its time policing such simple rules — particularly in a case as massive and complex as this. … Counsel’s tactic would not be appropriate for a college term paper. It certainly is not appropriate here.”

University of Alabama School of Law Professor Montré Carodine clerked for Judge Barbier 15 years ago and tells NPR this may not be the first time BP’s lawyers have used such tactics. “The subtext seems to be Judge Barbier saying, ‘Look, every time I give you an inch you take a mile, and I’m tired of it,’ ” Carodine says. She concludes that BP is lucky because some judges would have stricken the entire brief for not following the rules.

Barbier’s legal dressing-down comes less than two weeks after he ruled that BP acted with gross negligence in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig accident and spill. BP is appealing that opinion, but if it stands, the decision could cost the oil giant billions of dollars in increased federal penalties. Just how much BP will have to pay is a question set for argument in Barbier’s New Orleans courtroom in January.

‘A’ Is For Apps: Teachers Share What’s On Their Phone

Sep 16, 2014   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on ‘A’ Is For Apps: Teachers Share What’s On Their Phone

Teachers are incorporating mobile technology and a digital sensibility into classroom lessons with assignments such as this one: to caption a historical photograph for teacher Nicholas Ferroni's high school history class in Union, N.J.i
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Teachers are incorporating mobile technology and a digital sensibility into classroom lessons with assignments such as this one: to caption a historical photograph for teacher Nicholas Ferroni’s high school history class in Union, N.J.

Courtesy of Nicholas Ferroni


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Courtesy of Nicholas Ferroni

Teachers are incorporating mobile technology and a digital sensibility into classroom lessons with assignments such as this one: to caption a historical photograph for teacher Nicholas Ferroni's high school history class in Union, N.J.

Teachers are incorporating mobile technology and a digital sensibility into classroom lessons with assignments such as this one: to caption a historical photograph for teacher Nicholas Ferroni’s high school history class in Union, N.J.

Courtesy of Nicholas Ferroni

Nestled between Julia Auster’s fantasy football app and Facebook Messenger is a relatively new bucket of apps: the education tools she uses in the French classes she teaches at Robert Adams Middle School in Holliston, Mass.

Auster isn’t alone.

With more students bringing their own tech into the classroom, teachers are finding that apps aren’t just fun — they’re valuable tools to help manage student behaviors, to communicate with parents and to connect learning with social media. In short, they help inform how and what to teach.

And the best part: many of these apps are free.

As the new school year gets under way, NPR checked in with school technologists and teachers to see what digital tools they’re using.

The Remind app enables teachers to send notes to a class en masse. Here, Michael Buist, a fifth-grade teacher in Chandler, Ariz., notifies parents and students about a reading assignment via a voice message.i
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The Remind app enables teachers to send notes to a class en masse. Here, Michael Buist, a fifth-grade teacher in Chandler, Ariz., notifies parents and students about a reading assignment via a voice message.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR


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Elissa Nadworny/NPR

The Remind app enables teachers to send notes to a class en masse. Here, Michael Buist, a fifth-grade teacher in Chandler, Ariz., notifies parents and students about a reading assignment via a voice message.

The Remind app enables teachers to send notes to a class en masse. Here, Michael Buist, a fifth-grade teacher in Chandler, Ariz., notifies parents and students about a reading assignment via a voice message.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Remind

One of the most popular mobile apps we heard about was Remind. Think of it as a combo of sticky note and class newsletter for the digital age: Remind allows teachers to send messages — via email, cell phone, iPad or Android device — to an entire class with the push of a button.

Teachers are using it to notify parents and students about homework, highlight upcoming school events or let parents know what’s going on in class.

An estimated 18 million teachers are using Remind, the company says, with 200,000 to 300,000 new users coming on board per day. In states like Texas and Mississippi, the company says, one out of four teachers use Remind.

Remind has recently added a voice messaging function, which Michael Buist, a fifth-grade teacher at Knox Gifted Academy in Chandler, Ariz., loves. His class is currently reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. To tell the class and their parents about the next reading assignment, Buist recorded one student, 10-year-old Robert Turner, reading a paragraph.

“We’re so happy with all this technology,” says Sarah Turner, Robert’s mother. “Robert has dysgraphia, a handwriting disability, so doing things with technology has really helped him.”

ClassDojo lets teachers note students' positive and negative behaviors during class — with a point system as well as nice and not-so-nice sounds.i
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ClassDojo lets teachers note students’ positive and negative behaviors during class — with a point system as well as nice and not-so-nice sounds.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR


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Elissa Nadworny/NPR

ClassDojo lets teachers note students' positive and negative behaviors during class — with a point system as well as nice and not-so-nice sounds.

ClassDojo lets teachers note students’ positive and negative behaviors during class — with a point system as well as nice and not-so-nice sounds.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

ClassDojo

ClassDojo might be described as a way to help students find their classroom mojo. The app lets teachers recognize both positive and negative behavior in real time during class.

Good behavior — like working hard, helping others, asking a good question — earns points and a high-pitched game-show chime for all to hear. Poor behavior — like disrupting class, being off task or wasting time — results in a loss of points and a sad, out-of-tune bass sound. The kids choose fun avatars — a purple bear with yellow lips and horn, a one-eyed furry gray creature — and parents who sign up for notifications receive updates on how their children are doing.

ClassDojo works on cell phones and tablets, as well as outdated Web browsers like Internet Explorer 8. And that’s by design.

“We want teachers to be able to use ClassDojo regardless of how much money their school or district has,” says Manoj Lamba, ClassDojo’s marketing lead. The company estimates that at least one teacher at one-third of all U.S. schools uses the app.

Libby Gronquist credits ClassDojo for getting her through her first years of teaching eighth-grade social studies at KIPP Liberation College Prep in Houston, Texas.

She connected ClassDojo to the class speakers so everyone could hear the app’s sounds — good and bad.

“It made all my students hyperaware of their behavior,” says Gronquist. “They all wanted that positive sound to be theirs.”

Since the app debuted three years ago, it’s developed new features that enable messaging and photo-sharing between parents and teachers.

Brenda Johnson was introduced to ClassDojo last year when her son Austin, 10, was a third-grader at Penngrove Elementary School in Rohnert Park, Calif. She says the app gave her a better understanding of what was happening in the classroom and helped spark conversation at home.

“Austin needed it. He’d come home from school and want to know how he did,” says Johnson. “If he hadn’t done well we could talk about it, so it became a conversation about his behavior.”

Teachers are using QR scanners like i-nigma in a variety of ways, including showcasing students' work online.i
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Teachers are using QR scanners like i-nigma in a variety of ways, including showcasing students’ work online.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR


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Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Teachers are using QR scanners like i-nigma in a variety of ways, including showcasing students' work online.

Teachers are using QR scanners like i-nigma in a variety of ways, including showcasing students’ work online.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

QR Code Readers

Teachers are also trying to break the QR code — that’s “quick response” code, a kind of digital bar code.

Among them is Ed Campos, a math and tech teacher at Visalia Charter Independent Study High School in Visalia, Calif. He recently emailed parents requesting they download QR code readers in preparation for the school’s upcoming open house.

To show off his students’ digital work, Campos plans to leave QR codes throughout the classroom so parents can scan them with their smartphones to access online portfolios.

Campos, a self-declared tech fanatic, incorporates technology into the majority of his assignments. Student work includes Google presentations and video testimonials; they will also use a website — QRStuff — to create QR codes that lead their parents to their online work.

“We’re using QR codes to link the physical to the digital,” Campos says. He recommends i-nigma as his QR code scanner of choice.

Students tweet about historical events they've learned in teacher Nicholas Ferroni's Union High School history class in New Jersey. Twitter handles have been blurred to protect students' privacy. i
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Students tweet about historical events they’ve learned in teacher Nicholas Ferroni’s Union High School history class in New Jersey. Twitter handles have been blurred to protect students’ privacy.

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Students tweet about historical events they've learned in teacher Nicholas Ferroni's Union High School history class in New Jersey. Twitter handles have been blurred to protect students' privacy.

Students tweet about historical events they’ve learned in teacher Nicholas Ferroni’s Union High School history class in New Jersey. Twitter handles have been blurred to protect students’ privacy.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Twitter

Other teachers are employing the mobile apps their students are already using to reinforce classroom lessons and encourage kids to continue their discussions online.

Students of Nicholas Ferroni, a history teacher at Union High School in Union, N.J., send tweets sprinkled with emoji that describe historical events like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 or the British Stamp Act of 1765.

He’s also embracing his students’ digital lives in other ways, such as asking them to create memes using photos related to what they’re studying in class. For example, a student paired a picture of a typewriter with the line: “Macintosh … I am your father!” The students can then share the images on their own social media platforms.

Ferroni also uses everyday apps such as Vine, Facebook and Instagram, and recommends Poptok, a game structured like Candy Crush that teaches one of 11 languages.

Teachers are using Socrative, a polling app, not only to quiz their students about what they're learning, but also to learn more about the students themselves.i
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Teachers are using Socrative, a polling app, not only to quiz their students about what they’re learning, but also to learn more about the students themselves.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR


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Teachers are using Socrative, a polling app, not only to quiz their students about what they're learning, but also to learn more about the students themselves.

Teachers are using Socrative, a polling app, not only to quiz their students about what they’re learning, but also to learn more about the students themselves.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Socrative

As its name suggests, Socrative relies on questions: In its simplest form, Socrative is a polling app. Teachers set up questions — multiple choice, short answer or true/false. Students use their version of the app to receive questions and submit answers.

“Socrative is a very easy simple way to get a feel for your classroom,” says Chris McEnroe, an English teacher at Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass.

McEnroe uses the app — which is also free and multiplatform — to find out everything from what students’ favorite flavor of ice cream is, to their thoughts on a character in an assigned reading.

The app tracks and records the answers, and can generate reports based on the results. When shared, McEnroe says, the results connect students with similar views.

His biggest teaching challenge, he says, is trying to get an emotional reaction from his students. He finds he gets those introspective answers when students can respond to questions through their smartphones.

“Reaching students on their phones, a space where they are alone and it’s personal, is a way to do it that the students don’t find threatening,” he says.

The answers also help inform how McEnroe interacts with students and designs future class discussions.

“In addition to opening communication, digital tools create data for teachers to make teaching decisions that suit the individuals in front of them,” McEnroe says.

The information is particularly helpful for students who seem reserved or disinterested. These types of digital tools, McEnroe says, “have completely changed my approach to students.”

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  • NPT: 2019-07-20 09:38 AM
  • EDT: 2019-07-19 11:53 PM
  • PDT: 2019-07-19 08:53 PM