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Nearly half of America’s public schools didn’t meet federal achievement standards this year, marking the largest failure rate since the much-criticized No Child Left Behind Law took effect a decade ago, according to a national report…

The Center on Education Policy report shows more than 43,000 schools — or 48% — did not make “adequate yearly progress” this year. The failure rates range from a low of 11% in Wisconsin to a high of 89% in Florida.

The findings are far below the 82% failure rate that Education Secretary Arne Duncan predicted earlier this year but still indicate an alarming trend that Duncan hopes to address by granting states relief from the federal law. The law requires states to have every student performing at grade level in math and reading by 2014, which most educators agree is an impossible goal.

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In the latest bad news for the soda industry, Danish researchers discovered that drinking non-diet soda leads to dramatic increases in dangerous hidden fats. In the study, researchers asked participants to drink either soda sweetened with 50 percent glucose and 50 fructose (table sugar, the soda sweetener of choice in Denmark), milk containing the same amount of calories as the regular soda, diet cola, or water every day for six months.
While total fat mass remained the same across all beverage-consuming groups, researchers say dramatic increases in fats that are hard to detect with the naked eye occurred. Those who drank the regular cola experienced a 132 to 142 percent increase in liver fat, a 117 to 221 percent jump in skeletal fat, and about a 30 percent increase in both triglyceride blood fats and other organic fat. The regular soda-drinking group also experienced an 11 percent increase in cholesterol, compared to the people who drank beverages.
In America, many sodas are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup that has been shown to cause even worse fat buildup. Avoid turning to diet soda as a healthy alternative. Artificial sweeteners and food dyes have been linked to brain cell damage and hyperactivity; people who drink diet soda are also more prone to developing diabetes…
3. You’re taking part in the biggest science experiment on the planet.
Many soda brands on the market in America today are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, a heart-harming man-made compound derived mainly from genetically engineered (GE) corn. GE technology was only introduced into our food chain in the 1990s. We don’t know the long-term health impacts of their use because the corporations that developed the crops never had to test to make sure it’s safe over the long term. Other independent scientists are finding that GE crops are linked to digestive tract damage, accelerated aging, and even infertility.

3 Surprising Reasons to Give Up Soda By Leah Zerbe, Rodale 

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“Global talent pool shifts” by Sam Parker, EL Gazette (Nov 2011)

With steadily growing numbers of university graduates in countries such as China, Brazil and Korea, the US and main European countries have lost their dominance in the global graduate talent pool, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has reported.
In its Education at a Glance 2011 statement, the OECD released data showing that, although one in four graduates are still in either the US or Europe, emerging economies are levelling the playing field with their steep increases in higher education graduates.
China, for example, now accounts for 12 per cent of graduates in advanced economic countries, while Brazil represents 4 per cent of graduates in emerging economies. Korea is catching up with Germany’s 4.6 per cent share of the global graduate pool to surpass France and Canada, which each account for 3.6 per cent of the world’s graduates, according to the University World News website. Japan, however, has maintained its 11 per cent share.
Countries such as Russia, Indonesia and South Africa were included in the analysis for the first time this year, combining with the statistics of the 34 nations defined by the OECD’s as ‘advanced economies’ to make up the total pool of graduates globally.
And although the quality of graduates in China or South Africa might be lower than those in the US or UK, Andreas Schleicher, the head of OECD’s education statistics, said analysts should not doubt their potential.
‘One mistake we should not make is to assume that countries that upgrade quantity cannot upgrade quality at similar speeds,’ he said.
The report also considered the percentage of university graduates in the workforce, noting that only one in five US graduates are newly employed, while 18 per cent of Chinese graduates are entering the job market. India was not included in this part of the study, however, so as a result China earned a high proportion of the talent pool.
The financial difficulty of paying for college is a possible explanation for the control shift in the global graduate talent pool, Schleicher added.
‘The proportion of OECD countries in the global talent pool is shrinking,’ he said. ‘One of the hypotheses is that higher education has become so expensive for individuals in countries like the US that the composition of the global talent pool has changed.’

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NEWS IN BRIEF with Sam Parker, English Language Gazette (Nov. 2011)

1m Esol pupils in England
ACCORDING TO recent figures published by the UK Department of Education, approximately one million pupils in England speak English as their second language. The report states that a record one in six pupils in state primary schools and one in eight in state secondary education speak another language at home. Funding for state-school English as an additional language programmes has been cut significantly.

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Earlier this week, the Palestinian Authority expanded its platform of seeking acceptance in international organizations by appealing to the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Palestinians were accepted, in a vote of 107-14, and given full membership status. Much like their September application to the UN’s general assembly, this new modus operandi from Ramallah deviates from past avenues in the peace process. The Palestinian Authority believes that with enough international recognition of their status, rights, and borders, they can declare a de facto statehood unilaterally and achieve a more sustainable brokering position in final-status talks with Israel. The Obama Administration, as well as the Israeli government, believes this is reckless endangerment on the highest level, that talks will never develop out of this strategy, and that this threatens regional stability.

The US’s history with UNESCO is shaky at best. During the Reagan years the US withdrew from the organization, citing the belief that it was corrupt and “anti-American.” It was George W. Bush who returned America to the fold in 2002, saying the US was “committed to the values of UNESCO.” After Monday’s vote, the Obama administration quickly withdrew from the organization, taking its 80+ million dollars of annual donations with it, or roughly 20% of UNESCO’s budget. The US’s reaction was dictated by a 1994 law which forbids the government from donating to “any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.” While past administrations have found ways to circumvent laws such as these, there does not seem to be any willingness from the Obama government to do so, as the withdrawal was swiftly carried out following the vote. The US seems adamant in maintaining its seclusion, despite the seemingly dubious implications of its withdrawal. For instance, consider the disparity: the US upholds this law and withdraws from UNESCO, yet continues to maintain its involvement in the IMF and World Bank, both of which recognize Kosovo, a country lacking set borders or widespread recognition.

The Fiasco over UNESCO by Grant Rumley