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Employment Situation — September 2014

October 3, 2014 Comments off

Employment Situation — September 2014
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 248,000 in September, and the unemployment rate declined to 5.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in professional and business services, retail trade, and health care.

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Princeton, Williams Take Top Spots in U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings

September 9, 2014 Comments off

Princeton, Williams Take Top Spots in U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings
Source: U.S. News & World Report

The benefits of graduating from college are huge: better job prospects, higher wages and lower unemployment. The drawbacks to dropping out are just as massive: time spent outside the labor market and accrued student debt without better job opportunities to help with repayment.

Over the past 20 years, more than 31 million students have dropped out of colleges, according to a recent report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. That’s why choosing a college that fits academically and financially is so important.

Enter the 2015 U.S. News Best Colleges rankings, released today.

This year’s 30th edition of Best Colleges includes data on nearly 1,800 colleges and universities. Eligible schools are ranked on up to 16 measures of academic excellence, including graduation rates, selectivity and freshmen retention, to help families compare schools, narrow their searches and make informed decisions. The 2015 rankings methodology remains the same as the 2014 edition’s.

The top three schools among National Universities, schools that emphasize research and offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs, reprised their performances from last year. Princeton University remained at No. 1, with Harvard University in second and Yale University at No. 3. While a few universities shifted places, the schools ranked in the top 10 all remained the same, except that Dartmouth College, which tied for the 10th spot last year, dropped to No. 11.

There was more movement further down the list. For example, Pennsylvania State University—University Park fell 11 places, moving from a tie at No. 37 to No. 48, where it tied with four other schools. Northeastern University in Boston and the University of California—Irvine both rose seven spots, from a three-way tie at No. 49 last year to a five-way tie at No. 42 this year.

World Meteorological Organization — Record Greenhouse Gas Levels Impact Atmosphere and Oceans

September 9, 2014 Comments off

Record Greenhouse Gas Levels Impact Atmosphere and Oceans
Source: World Meteorological Organization

The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2013, propelled by a surge in levels of carbon dioxide. This is according to the World Meteorological Organization’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, which injected even greater urgency into the need for concerted international action against accelerating and potentially devastating climate change.

The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin showed that between 1990 and 2013 there was a 34% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide.

In 2013, concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 142% of the pre-industrial era (1750), and of methane and nitrous oxide 253% and 121% respectively.

The observations from WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) network showed that CO2 levels increased more between 2012 and 2013 than during any other year since 1984. Preliminary data indicated that this was possibly related to reduced CO2 uptake by the earth’s biosphere in addition to the steadily increasing CO2 emissions.

Preliminary report Crash involving Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight MH17 Hrabove, Ukraine – 17 July 2014

September 9, 2014 Comments off

Preliminary report Crash involving Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight MH17 Hrabove, Ukraine – 17 July 2014 (PDF)
Source: Dutch Safety Board
From press release:

Flight MH17 with a Boeing 777-200 operated by Malaysia Airlines broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside. This is mentioned in the preliminary report on the investigation into the crash of MH17 that has been published today by the Dutch Safety Board. There are no indications that the MH17 crash was caused by a technical fault or by actions of the crew.

The cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder and data from air traffic control all suggest that flight MH17 proceeded as normal until 13:20:03 (UTC), after which it ended abruptly. A full listening of the communications among the crew members in the cockpit recorded on the cockpit voice recorder revealed no signs of any technical faults or an emergency situation. Neither were any warning tones heard in the cockpit that might have pointed to technical problems. The flight data recorder registered no aircraft system warnings, and aircraft engine parameters were consistent with normal operation during the flight. The radio communications with Ukrainian air traffic control confirm that no emergency call was made by the cockpit crew. The final calls by Ukrainian air traffic control made between 13.20:00 and 13.22:02 (UTC) remained unanswered.

The pattern of wreckage on the ground suggests that the aircraft split into pieces during flight (an in-flight break up). Based on the available maintenance history the airplane was airworthy when it took off from Amsterdam and there were no known technical problems. The aircraft was manned by a qualified and experienced crew.

Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (Phase One Trial) in MDL 2179, In Re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon”

September 8, 2014 Comments off

Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (Phase One Trial) in MDL 2179, In Re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” (PDF)
Source: U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Louisiana

Although drilling operations concluded without major catastrophe, the decision to drill the last 100 feet of the well with little or no margin left the wellbore in an extremely fragile condition.29 This resulted in the presence of a large amount of debris in the well when the production casing was set in the well a few days later. As will be explained, this debris compromised the production casing, which led to the incorrect placement of cement, which in turn permitted hydrocarbons to enter the well on April 20, 2010. Therefore, BP’s decision to drill the final 100 feet was the initial link in a chain that concluded with the blowout, explosion, and oil spill.

The Employment Situation — August 2014

September 5, 2014 Comments off

The Employment Situation — August 2014
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 142,000 in August, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in professional and business services and in health care.

UN OHCHR — Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

August 27, 2014 Comments off

Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (PDF)
Source: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The findings presented in the present report, based on 480 interviews and evidence collected between 20 January and 15 July 2014, establish that the conduct of the warring parties in the Syrian Arab Republic has caused civilians immeasurable suffering.

Government forces continued to perpetrate massacres and conduct widespread attacks on civilians, systematically committing murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearance amounting to crimes against humanity. Government forces have committed gross violations of human rights and the war crimes of murder, hostage-taking, torture, rape and sexual violence, recruiting and using children in hostilities and targeting civilians. Government forces disregarded the special protection accorded to hospitals and medical and humanitarian personnel. Indiscriminate and disproportionate aerial bombardment and shelling led to mass civilian casualties and spread terror. Government forces used chlorine gas, an illegal weapon.

Non-State armed groups, named in the report, committed massacres and war crimes, including murder, execution without due process, torture, hostage-taking, violations of international humanitarian law tantamount to enforced disappearance, rape and sexual violence, recruiting and using children in hostilities and attacking protected objects. Medical and religious personnel and journalists were targeted. Armed groups besieged and indiscriminately shelled civilian neighbourhoods, in some instances spreading terror among civilians through the use of car bombings in civilian areas. Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) committed torture, murder, acts tantamount to enforced disappearance, and forcible displacement as part of an attack on the civilian population in Aleppo and Ar Raqqah governorates, amounting to crimes against humanity.

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