National / International News
Law school doesn't look like a great deal for many students. Tuition keeps going up, which means bigger loans to pay off.
But the job market for lawyers remains weak. At lower-tier schools, less than half of students end up with jobs as attorneys, according to a recent report from an American Bar Association Task Force.
Steven Harper, author of "The Lawyer Bubble," argues that those schools should be held accountable. The ABA task force proposes less-dramatic measures, like giving students more information about their prospective debt load.
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Poultry industry groups and government officials continue a two-day convocation on bird flu in Iowa on Wednesday, trying to understand caused an outbreak this spring to reach such a dramatic scale that it cost Midwestern poultry farmers 48 million birds. They’re also evaluating how to mitigate a potential outbreak this fall when migratory birds, the virus carriers, take wing.
One of the tools poultry producers may consider is a vaccine. “We have a seed strain that appears to be fairly successful with reference to chickens," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a Congressional hearing last week. "It's now in the process of being tested for turkey.”
Another focus is biosecurity on farms. That might mean disinfecting delivery trucks that service multiple facilities, or keeping wild birds out of barns.
“These were all things that were done on paper, and whether or not they were done in practice is debatable,” says ag consultant Tom Elam of FarmEcon LLC.
Elan said producers may have gotten sloppy about biosecurity measures because they had gone so long without problems.
Elam doubts an outbreak in the fall would be as extensive as the spring outbreak. But he’s nevertheless glad the USDA is planning for a “worst case scenario” of managing 500 bird flu detections simultaneously — double the amount in the spring. The agency is adding 450 temporary workers in case of a large-scale fall outbreak.
Elam says the agency was too slow this spring to euthanize birds and to clean up infected facilities.
“Perhaps we saw those houses that weren't cleaned up properly responsible for spreading the infection to nearby farms,” he says.
The government response to bird flu is the subject of a Congressional agriculture committee hearing Thursday.
Clothes dryers in the United States use about as much energy each year as the entire state of Massachusetts, according to an estimate from EnergyStar — which is part of the reason the Department of Energy is trying to develop more efficient home appliances.
Among those making significant progress is Ayyoub Momen, a staff scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
Like most Americans, he owns a dryer. But he says he hates using it. He knows it's an energy hog, and it takes so long to dry anything.
Then, one day, he was thinking about ultrasonic humidifiers — a kind of portable room humidifier that uses high-frequency vibrations to turn water into steam without getting hot. And Momen thought: What if I use the same technology on a piece of wet fabric?
“The result was so amazing. It was like mind-blowing," he says. "In less than 14 seconds, I could dry a piece of fabric from completely being wet. If I wanted to do the same thing with heat, it’s taking somewhere between 20 to 40 minutes."
Momen’s current prototype looks nothing like a conventional dryer. It's basically a small circle of metal called a transducer that he plugs into a battery. He then douses a small piece of fabric in water and places it on top.
Ayyoub Momen's current prototype only dries a small circle of fabric. As soon as the transducer is plugged in, the fabric starts sizzling without getting much hotter.Emily Siner
The fabric sizzles and steams, and in about 20 seconds, it's dry. Momen says it uses barely any energy.
"This dryer technology has the potential to save somewhere [around] 1 percent of the overall energy consumption of the United States," he says.
Venkat Venkatakrishnan, director of research and development at GE Appliances, calls the technology a "big breakthrough."
"It is not very far-fetched, not very difficult to do," he says. "But it is not an idea that everybody thinks of, because there is a lot of science that goes into it.”
GE has partnered with Oak Ridge to help put the ultrasonic dryer on the market. They still have to test this technology on bigger batches of clothes and build a more sophisticated prototype. But, he says, "I think we are about four years away from being able to buy this dryer at a Home Depot or at Lowe’s or any appliance retailer.”
He doesn't know how much they'll cost yet, and people might not run out to buy what could be an expensive purchase. Still, Venkatakrishnan thinks consumers will be willing to pay more to dry their clothes much faster — and, of course, save money on their electricity bill.
There's really no other way to describe them — the toilets of Japan are fabulous, and, high tech.
"Let's say you don't want to lift up the lid yourself, because it's dirty," explains translator Kaede Kawauchi. "Then you can just use the remote control to press a button and then it just kind of lifts up."
In Japan, toilets come with remote controls.
Toto has customers work with "advisers" to help figure out which product is right for them. (Sally Herships/Marketplace)
And at the Tokyo showroom of Toto, one of Japan's largest toilet manufacturers, you can have your pick. If Apple built a toilet store, this is what it might look like — white and shiny, but cleaner. Nariko Yamashita, who works in public relations for Toto explains a complex looking remote control — one with 22 buttons.Sally Herships
She presses one and a tube appears from under the seat spraying water. Not only do these toilets have built in bidets, you can also, says Yamashita, adjust the water temperature, get a water massage, or choose a specific flushing option depending on how much toilet paper you require.
But most U.S. consumers haven't been to Japan and don't know there's a whole wide high tech toilet world out there — The high tech toilet is something that has to be tried to be really appreciated, says Bill Strang, president of operations for Toto in the Americas.
So why haven't high tech commodes taken off in the U.S. yet? In Japan, Toto had a big leg up, says Strang. The Japanese love having options and Toto's Washlet is probably the best known model. It's a toilet seat with features like a drier for your nether regions and the option to play sounds in case you need some sonic camouflage for your toileting activities.Sally Herships
The average price for a Washlet is around $600 but you still need a toilet and a tank. In Japan you can end spending as much as $2,700 on your toilet, and spend consumers do. Since Toto launched the Washlet in 1980 the company has sold 36 million units. Says Yamashita, 76 percent of Japanese households own one.
Even before the company went high tech it already was in the business of making toilets so consumers were familiar with the brand.
"I can tell you how this Washlet will work. I can tell you about the spray wand and how it's going to use a warm water wash to clean you off and how it will oscillate and pulsate and how if it doesn't hit the right spot you can move it around and get it to hit the right spot with that spray rinse ... I often say that I can tell you about the Washlet, but until you can actually test drive it and understand that experience you will then be able to say in your heart what it really brings to you in way of value," he says.
Says Strang, Toto's U.S. sales are increasing by 20 percent a year, so it's possible his pitch is working and that American consumers are now more carefully considering their commodes.
That's how many chickens were taken out by the last bout of bird flu that swept the Midwest. And now, poultry industry groups and government officials have been meeting in Iowa to prepare for the next possible wave of the disease, as migratory birds, the virus carriers, will take wing in the fall.22
That's how many buttons can be found on the remote control in Japan for ... a toilet. High-tech toilets have become popular in that country, but have yet to find a market in the U.S. But that may be changing. Toto, a popular brand, reports that U.S. sales are increasing 20 percent a year.20 seconds
That's how quickly Ayyoub Momen, a staff scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, can dry a piece of cloth with his protoype for a clothes dryer that utilizes high-frequency vibrations to turn water into steam. The technology is being developed for a full-fledged appliance and has the potential to save 1 percent of energy consumption in the U.S.$75,000
That's how much Baltimore resident Michael Ghebru says he lost in liquor and food when his store, Doc’s Liquors, was looted during the riots surrounding the death of Freddie Gray. Some 50 rioters, including customers that Ghebru recognized, tore through his store in April. And due to laws about liquor stores in residential neighborhoods, he would also be out of luck when it comes to collecting insurance for his business from the city of Baltimore.
Teleporting from one place to the next looks so fun on the big and little screen. But physicists who actually can do something like that with single atoms say teleporting people would be much messier.
The dispute between two Native American tribes comes down to historical claims on a casino's proposed site — and also business.
Commentator Frank Deford isn't crazy about the new boxing movie Southpaw. He says its shortcomings are typical of Hollywood's depiction of boxing.
Nationwide, juvenile incarceration has dropped by half since 1999 — but the probations that have replaced it hold teens to sometimes subjective standards and often include electronic monitoring.