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Importance
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New York police take seconds to restore reputation for brutality
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 05, 2020
“Driving vehicles into protesters demanding justice for George Floyd earned the backing of the mayor, but of few others * George Floyd killing – latest US updates * See all our George Floyd coverageIt doesn’t take long to blow up a reputation. In the case of the New York police department, an institution with an already troubled history, the clip lasted all of 27 seconds.It showed an NYPD vehicle in Brooklyn lined up against a metal barricade behind which protesters were chanting during Saturday’s demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd. Projectiles were thrown on to the roof of the car, then suddenly a second police SUV drew up alongside and instead of stopping continued to plough straight into the crowd.Seconds later the first vehicle lurched forward, knocking the barrier over and with it propelling several protesters to the ground amid a harrowing chorus of shrieking.A 27-second video, now viewed more than 30m times, had quickly shredded years of effort to repair the deeply tarnished image of the NYPD. New York’s “finest” were firmly cast in a role normally reserved for the security corps of petty dictators.The shocking video was compounded hours later when the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, spoke about the incident. A politician who won election in 2013 largely on a promise to reform the NYPD and scrap its racially discriminatory stop-and-frisk policy, astounded even his closest supporters when he defended the police.De Blasio said: “I do believe the NYPD has acted appropriately.”Social media lit up. Was it appropriate to drive those two SUVs into the crowd? Was it appropriate for an NYPD officer forcibly to remove the coronavirus mask of a black protester whose arms were raised in the air, then pepper-spray his face?Was it appropriate for another officer to tell a protester to get off the street, then physically shove her several feet towards the curb where she landed on her head? Or that the police officers involved in the pepper spray incident had covered their badge numbers, presumably to avoid having to answer for their actions. Or to beat a nurse walking home from a shift at a hospital?The clashes between New York’s police and its protesters have reverberated around the city. The largest police force in the US, with its $5.6bn annual budget and 36,000 uniformed officers under the leadership of one of the most progressive mayors in the country, has responded to demonstrations about police brutality with more police brutality.The Black, Latino and Asian Caucus of the city council, which makes up more than half of the legislative body, was swift and devastating in its criticism. In a statement, it said that the NYPD had acted “with aggression towards New Yorkers who vigorously and vociferously but nonetheless peacefully advocated for justice”.Adrienne Adams, co-chair of the caucus, told the Guardian the NYPD had tried to suppress legitimate anger felt by African American and other minority communities following years of police abuse. “We cannot allow people who have kept people of color down for decades to say now that we don’t have the right to display our outrage,” she said.Though that sentiment applies nationwide, Adams believes New York stands out as having a “horrible history of police brutality”. It was the NYPD that set the tone, she said, when Daniel Pantaleo, the officer implicated in the 2014 death by chokehold of Eric Garner in Staten Island, avoided prosecution.“When nothing happened to the police officers who were responsible for the death of Eric Garner, New York set the blueprint for what happened to George Floyd,” she said. “There’s no penalty, no consequence, so it’s OK.”Adams’s framing of the Garner killing could equally be applied to a long string of notorious episodes of police misconduct that preceded it. In 1997, Haitian immigrant Abner Louima was handcuffed by an NYPD officer and sexually assaulted with a broken broomstick.Two years later, Amadou Diallo was shot near his home in a hail of 41 bullets after officers mistook his wallet for a gun. In an echo of that event, an unarmed Sean Bell was shot 50 times in Queens on the morning of his wedding in 2006 – it took six years for the NYPD detective who opened the fusillade to be chucked off the force while nobody has ever been convicted of any crime.In the policing of protest, the NYPD also has a contentious track record. In 2004 it rounded up more than 1,800 peaceful protesters rallying outside the Republican National Convention during the re-election bid of George W Bush and herded them into overcrowded pens on Pier 57 in Manhattan. In 2011 it was similarly criticized for heavy-handed tactics during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.Cutting across all this, the force has consistently targeted its efforts on neighborhoods of the city with majority black or Latino populations, straying at times into overt racial profiling. Though stop and frisk has been reined back in recent years, the NYPD continues to heavily and disproportionately police those communities despite a historically low homicide rate.Despite this long legacy of overreach, the force continues to be systemically resistant to public oversight. Under Section 50-A of New York state law, the disciplinary files of police officers are largely held in secret, making the task of holding them accountable almost impossible.Jennvine Wong, a staff attorney at the Cop Accountability Project (CAP) within the Legal Aid Society, told the Guardian that there were currently more than 200 police officers still being employed by the NYPD on full pay who should have been considered for termination following reports of misconduct.Data collected by CAP shows that where cases of misconduct arise they often involve escalation of low-level encounters into aggressive confrontations – something officers are supposed to be trained not to do. The project is currently litigating the case of Tomas Medina who was put in a chokehold and Tasered in 2018 after police were called to a complaint about loud music being played.Eric Garner’s fatal arrest was triggered by him allegedly selling single cigarettes.Although the use of chokeholds has been banned in New York, the project has found that between 2015 and 2018 the city settled 30 lawsuits involving NYPD use of the potentially lethal maneuver.Wong believes such endemic deployment of excessive force has spilled over into the NYPD’s handling of the George Floyd protests. She was present at a peaceful protest in Brooklyn that suddenly turned volatile not because of the behavior of protesters but by a sudden change of tack on the part of the police.“In a split second, the NYPD snapped and engaged in over-aggressive enforcement. They escalated it from 0 to 10 out of nowhere, arresting people and wielding their batons.”If there has been unrestrained use of batons in the city, it would be with the full approval of Ed Mullins, the provocative president of one of the main police unions, the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA). He wrote to members urging “each and every one of you to report for duty with your helmet and baton and do not hesitate to utilize that equipment in securing your personal safety”.The sister Police Benevolent Association of New York City has also spoken to its members in inflammatory terms about them being “under attack by violent, organized terrorists while New York City council and other politicians sit at home demanding we ‘de-escalate’”.There is no denying that the NYPD faces difficult challenges in the policing of mass protests, especially late at night when violent outbreaks have erupted as they did on Monday in Manhattan and the Bronx. Fires were started in the street and stores looted.For Eugene O’Donnell, a former NYPD officer and prosecutor in Brooklyn and Queens who is now a professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Monday night’s spectacle of looting along Fifth Avenue amounted to a collapse of policing in the city.“This weekend, the job of police officer in New York became officially impossible when the police abolitionists won. They have created a model of zero tolerance towards force being used and any injuries being inflicted, and that’s absurd.”O’Donnell said the same pattern is repeating itself across America. “In city after city, the police were abolished this weekend. They stood back and watched as damage was inflicted that was irreversible.””
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Importance
1
What Will College Be Like in the Fall?
by NYT > Education
Jun 04, 2020
“Administrators, professors, a union representative and students consider the new realities of life on campus in the midst of a pandemic.”
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Importance
1
Fears grow of US coronavirus surge from George Floyd protests
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 02, 2020
“* Demonstrators in close proximity, many without masks * Trump under fire as violence flares across America * George Floyd protests: live coverageEven as all US states continue further phased reopening of businesses and social movement amid the coronavirus pandemic, governors, mayors and public health officials across the US are raising fears of a surge in cases of Covid-19 arising from escalating protests over the death of George Floyd.Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis a week ago, on Memorial Day, during an arrest by four police officers. The killing focused a fierce light on police brutality towards African Americans, and stoked protest and violence in most major cities.According to figures from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the US has seen nearly 1.8m infections and surpassed 105,000 deaths  in the Covid-19 pandemic. In a country that does not have universal healthcare, the crisis has disproportionately affected minorities, particularly those who live in crowded urban areas.Images of demonstrators in close proximity, many without masks, have therefore alarmed leaders – to the point where some are pleading with those on the streets to protest “the right way”, in order to better protect themselves.On Monday, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, expressed concern about “super spreaders” in the crowds of protesters seen across the state, but especially among throngs in New York City. New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, also urged protesters to maintain social distancing and wear masks.“Obviously we don’t want people in close proximity to each other, we don’t want people out there where they might catch this disease or spread this disease,” he said.Police outside the White House fired teargas at protesters on Monday evening while Donald Trump was holding a press conference inside. Substances such as teargas make people cough, which can spread viruses more easily.“I’m concerned that we had mass gatherings on our streets when we just lifted a stay-at-home order and what that could mean for spikes in coronavirus cases later,” Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, had said on Sunday.“I’m so concerned about it that I’m urging everybody to consider their exposure, if they need to isolate from their family members when they go home and if they need to be tested … because we have worked very hard to blunt the curve.”Bowser said protests in her city, which has seen violence several days in a row at the White House and other areas, were a mixed bag.“While I saw some people with masks last night, others didn’t,” she said. “I saw some people social distancing, other people were right on top of each other. So we don’t want to compound this deadly virus and the impact it’s had on our community.“We’ve been working hard to not have mass gatherings. As a nation, we have to be concerned about rebound.”Bowser’s message was echoed by Larry Hogan, the governor of Maryland, and by Keisha Lance-Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, who said she was “extremely concerned” about Covid-19 spreading, and that protests had distracted her from dealing with the pandemic.On Saturday, Bottoms said at a press conference: “If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a Covid test this week.”On Sunday, she told CNN’s State of the Union: “I realised that I hadn’t looked at our coronavirus numbers in two days. And that’s frightening, because it’s a pandemic, and people of color are getting hit harder.“We know what’s already happening in our community with this virus. We’re going to see the other side of this in a couple of weeks.”According to the Georgia health department, more African Americans have contracted Covid-19 in the state than any other race.“The question is: how do we do protesting safely?” Dr Ashish Jha, the director of the global health institute at Harvard’s TH Chan school of public health, told CNN. “I think masks are a critical part of it.”In New York, De Blasio said he supported the public’s right to demonstrate peacefully but added that the protests meant an uncertain future.“You have all the frustrations about injustice, combined with the frustrations about the injustice within the pandemic, because the pandemic displayed immense disparity combined with the fact that people spent two months cooped up indoors,” he said.“We don’t know what the summer brings.”Dr Theodore Long, leading the city’s contact tracing strategy, offered advice.“We strongly encourage anybody who is out in the protests to wear a mask, practice proper hand hygiene and to the extent possible, socially distance, though we know that’s not always going to be feasible,” he said.”
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Importance
1
Iranian 'spy' scientist flies home after release from US prison, raising hopes of prisoner swap
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Jun 02, 2020
“The families of British dual nationals imprisoned by Iran today criticised the Foreign Office for “complete inaction” in trying to secure their release, as an Iranian scientist previously jailed by the US was allowed to fly home. A plane carrying Sirous Asgari took off early this morning and was on its way back to Tehran to bring him home, Iran’s foreign minister announced, raising hopes of a potential prisoner swap for Western dual nationals in Iran. Mr Asgari was accused by a US court in 2016 of stealing trade secrets while on an academic visit to Ohio, where he visited a university working on projects for the US Navy. However, the 59-year-old scientist from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, was acquitted in November when an American judge dismissed the case against him. Several British, US and other dual nationals remain imprisoned or on temporary release in Iran, typically on controversial charges of espionage. They include British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, jailed in 2016, and retired engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, 66, who has been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since August 2017. Both the US Department of Homeland Security and the Iranian Foreign Ministry today denied reports that Mr Asgari’s release was part of a prisoner swap, but such arrangements have been made in the past, despite the breakdown in diplomatic relations between Washington and Tehran.”
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Importance
1
2 Atlanta police officers were fired and 3 were placed on desk duty for their use of force in arresting 2 college students during a Saturday night protest
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 31, 2020
“Mark Gardner and Ivory Streeter, who were both members of the department's fugitive unit, were terminated from the Atlanta Police Department.”
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Importance
1
UK taxpayers may be funding research for China’s defence project
by Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
May 31, 2020
“Experts fear British taxpayers could inadvertently be contributing to funding the Chinese defence programme, after millions of pounds of public funds were poured into technology research undertaken in collaboration with controversial Chinese universities known for their military links. The UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council distributed more than £6.5 million to British universities including Manchester for technology studies that were undertaken with these controversial Chinese institutions, according to disclosures on academic papers. While the research programmes focused on technologies that could be used for civilian purposes, experts have warned that they also have the potential to be used for military applications, prompting fears that taxpayer-funded research by British universities could be exploited by Beijing. In two cases, researchers even stated on their grant application forms that the technologies they were looking at could have “both civilian and military applications” or be used for “military controlling”. The disclosure comes days after The Telegraph revealed that Huawei has also backed a string of research projects linking British universities with Chinese defence institutions, which focused on these so-called “dual use” technologies. Huawei denies any wrongdoing. Experts have now warned that the studies funded by the EPSRC may be part of a worrying pattern of partnerships between British universities and Chinese universities that are known for their strong military ties – and that they could be used to fuel both China’s controversial surveillance regime and its declared ambition to become the world’s most powerful military force by 2049. On Sunday night, Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith said the collaborations were “tantamount to transfer of technologies to the Chinese government” and accused the EPSRC and British universities of “living in a naïve world”. “You cannot say that there is any [Chinese] institution that is safe from the reach of that government… If they take technology as part of a market position, they can use it for other things.” His warning comes as Beijing faces growing international hostility over its handling of the coronavirus crisis and attempts to crush dissent in Hong Kong. The EPSRC defended the payments. Executive chairwoman Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said: “These grants were fully consistent with government policy. All UK funding was directed to fund research by UK universities.” A spokesman added that it allocates funding to research projects rather than individual papers “through the lens of the quality of academic research”, and that it is for individual universities to decide who they work with as long as there is no legal breach and the other universities cover their own costs. A Telegraph investigation identified seven papers that were undertaken by British institutions in partnership with Chinese universities, as part of research programmes that accessed EPSRC grants totalling £6,637,875. The funding body is one of nine organisations that make up UK Research and Innovation, which states on its website that it is “principally funded” by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Two of the papers were co-authored by researchers at China's so-called "Seven Sons of National Defence", universities tasked with developing China's defence programme, and six were undertaken with the in-house academy for the People's Liberation Army. Of the money dished out by the EPSRC, £305,891 went to the University of Manchester for research it undertook with Beihang University – an institution sanctioned by America for its work on rockets and drones. The grant application to EPSRC boasted that it would could be used for “environmental monitoring or military controlling". A spokesman for the University of Manchester said: “We carry out due diligence on all research collaborations and we have clear ethical and intellectual property polices and guidelines which all our researchers, overseas and domestic, must adhere to as part of their professional contracts.” Six of the papers were also funded by Huawei, and the remaining one was worked on by its researchers. The company has insisted that they all focused on “common areas of research for telecoms equipment suppliers”, and that it has strict rules to ensure the research it backs is not used for military purposes. “We do not conduct military research either directly, or indirectly, nor do we work on military or intelligence projects for the Chinese government or any other government,” a spokesman said.”
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