2:17pm

Tue December 27, 2011
Science and Tech

Middle School Class Uses Social Networking

Ella Bowling's seventh grade science class has something to tweet about. It's their use of the popular social networking site, Twitter, in the classroom. Bowling, who teaches at Mason County Middle School, said she had heard about colleges and even the Kentucky Department of Education using Twitter in order to share information. Most of Bowling's students have cell phones and use Twitter or other sites regularly. "I know in the past we have been so afraid of using social media and have discouraged it," Bowling said in an email sent to MCMS coworkers. "But, it's like they always say, if you can't beat them, join them! Students are going to use social media so why not find a way to get them to use it for an educational purpose!"

2:15pm

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

Brazil Overtakes U.K. As World's Sixth Biggest Economy

Thousands of people crowd Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as summer gets going in the Southern Hemisphere.
Vanderlei Almeida AFP/Getty Images

Brazil is now the world's sixth biggest economy overtaking the U.K., according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. As the Financial Times puts it, it's another milestone that's part of a larger trend where emerging economies outpace developed ones. China, they report, overtook Japan earlier this year.

The BBC explains:

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2:14pm

Tue December 27, 2011
Politics

Congress Really Is As Bad As You Think, Scholars Say

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 10:41 am

House Speaker John Boehner, surrounded by Republican House members, speaks during a news conference in Washington last week. The House initially rejected a plan to extend a tax cut for two months to buy time for talks on a full-year renewal. It later compromised — a rare event in 2011.
Susan Walsh AP

Congressional approval ratings are on the rocks, hovering in or near single digits for the first time since pollsters started measuring them. But just how bad is the current congressional stalemate?

Thomas Mann, senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, is working on a book about Congress with a title that provides a succinct answer: It's Even Worse Than It Looks.

In modern history, Mann says, "there have been battles, delays, brinkmanship — but nothing quite like this."

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2:12pm

Tue December 27, 2011
Music Interviews

The 'Guitar Passions' Of Sharon Isbin And Steve Vai

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 6:31 pm

Sharon Isbin (left) and Steve Vai switch axes.
Afshin Javadi

Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin started the Juilliard guitar program. Her new album, Guitar Passions, features collaborations between Isbin — who studied with Andres Segovia, among others — and artists with very unclassical careers: jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan, rock singer Nancy Wilson of the band Heart, soprano saxophonist Paul Winter and several others.

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2:05pm

Tue December 27, 2011
All Politics are Local

New EPA Pollution Standards Have Expense

It may eventually cost Big Rivers Electric Corp. an estimated $100 million to install equipment to capture mercury and other toxic emissions to meet new pollution standards announced Wednesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, utility officials said Thursday. But that's not all. "The real impact will be on the O&M" — operations and maintenance — "side of the business," according to Bill Blackburn, Big Rivers' senior vice president of finance and energy services as well as its chief financial officer.

1:45pm

Tue December 27, 2011
All Tech Considered

Tutors Teach Seniors New High-Tech Tricks

At Pace University in New York, college students who tutor seniors in local retirement homes are prepped with sensitivity training. Brittany Beckett (left), a Pace student, and Muriel Cohen work together at United Hebrew of New Rochelle.
Courtesy of Pace University

A week after Christmas, many Americans are no doubt trying to figure out how to use the high-tech gadgets they got as gifts. This can be especially challenging for seniors. But a number of programs across the country are finding just the right experts to help usher older adults into the digital age.

For Pamela Norr, of Bend, Oregon, the light bulb went off as she, yet again, was trying to help her own elder parents with a tech problem. To whom did she turn?

"My teenage kids," she says.

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1:40pm

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

India's Hazare Begins New Hunger Strike In Corruption Fight

Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 1:43 pm

A supporter receives blessings from Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare during the first day of Hazare's hunger strike, in Mumbai, India on Tuesday.
Rajanish Kakade AP

India's anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, 74, has begun another three-day fast in Mumbai just as Parliament begins debate on a bill that would create an office with the authority to investigate corruption.

But, as The Christian Science Monitor reports, Hazare calls the bill "weak and useless." The Monitor adds:

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1:30pm

Tue December 27, 2011
The Two-Way

VIDEO: Tears From Kim Jong Un As His Father's Funeral Nears

The funeral for North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is set for Wednesday in Pyongyang, and it's something of a cliche to say — as basically every story today does — that details about what will happen are largely a mystery.

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1:14pm

Tue December 27, 2011
Performing Arts

There's Something About 'Matilda'

Kerry Ingram is one of four young actresses portraying the title role in Matilda the Musical.
Manual Harlan Playbill

While pantomime performances of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are traditional English holiday entertainment fare, there's a new hit in town. Londoners are flocking to Matilda the Musical, a souped-up version of Roald Dahl's well-known children's novel, playing in London's West End.

The production by The Royal Shakespeare Company has been proclaimed the best British musical in years. But despite most of the cast being under 16, this show is certainly not just for kids.

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12:49pm

Tue December 27, 2011
The Salt

Inhalable Caffeine: Party Drug Or Handy, Pocket-Sized Boost?

One AeroShot contains 100 mg of caffeine and sells for $2.99, making if roughly comparable to buying a latte.
Breathable Foods

If you've ever lamented the time and effort it takes to brew or procure a cup of coffee, this might perk you up. "Breathable Energy. Anytime. Anyplace."

That's the campaign slogan for AeroShot, a plastic inhaler, roughly the size of a lipstick tube, filled with a powdery, calorie-free mix of caffeine, B vitamins, and citrus flavors. It's slated to hit stores in January, just in time for the New Year.

But some aren't so sure selling caffeine in pocket-sized tubes — and marketing it to young people — is a great idea.

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