National News

A Chinese paramilitary police stands in front a portrait of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong outside the Forbidden city, Beijing, China, in November.

China Cracks Down On University Textbooks Promoting 'Western Values'

China's education minister has told universities to stop using textbooks that promote Western values in a move seen as part of a larger ideological crackdown, reports NPR's Frank Langfitt from Shanghai.

At an educational forum, Yuan Guiren said universities should also forbid criticism of China's leaders and the country's political system, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Frank says the edict comes as the government disrupts virtual private networks, or VPNs, which help people access foreign websites that China's Internet cops have already blocked.

Songwriter, Poet Rod McKuen Dies At 81

The obituary in The Los Angeles Times describes Rod McKuen as "prolific" and that may well be an understatement considering the many compositions he churned out.

McKuen is credited with more than 200 albums and more than 30 collections of poetry.

As Deadline Passes, The Fate Of ISIS Hostages Is Uncertain

As a deadline came and went, the fate of two hostages being held by the Islamic State is uncertain.

As we've reported, Jordan has indicated it was willing to release a convicted terrorist in exchange for the release of a Jordanian prisoner. On Thursday, Jordan demanded proof of life from the Islamic State, which had demanded the exchange take place by sundown on Thursday.

True or False? Free And Reduced-Price Lunch = Poor

In the education world, you see this phrase all the time: "free and reduced-price lunch." What's the percentage at a given school? In a given district or state?

It's not necessarily out of concern about who's getting fed. Instead, it's most often used to talk about concentrations of poverty and how that effects learning.

The phrase refers to students enrolled in the National School Lunch Program — an easily available data point for any school and any district.

Eugene De Kock a former Vlakplaas commander speaks to the judge at a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1999. De Kock, the apartheid regime's top assassin, asked the commission for amnesty for over 100 incidents of torture, murder and fraud.

South Africa Grants Parole To Notorious Apartheid-Era Death Squad Leader

The South African government has decided to grant parole to a notorious Apartheid-era death squad leader.

As The Guardian reports, Eugene de Kock, who was known as "Prime Evil," was sentenced to two life terms in connection to the killings.

The Guardian adds:

Augustine Goba (right) heads the laboratory at Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone. He and colleagues analyzed the viral genetics in blood samples from 78 Ebola patients early in the epidemic.

Could This Virus Be Good For You?

Viruses are usually thought of as the bad guys — causing everything from Ebola and AIDS to hepatitis and measles. But scientists have been following the curious story of a particular virus that might actually be good for you.

The virus is called GB Virus-C, and more than a billion people alive today have apparently been infected with it at some point during their lives, says Dr. Jack Stapleton, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa.

Russian tourists typically flock to the luxury ski resort of Megeve in the French Alps, but the weak ruble has kept them away this year.

Russian Economic Woes Hit France's Ski Slopes

Russia's worsening economy is having an impact far beyond its borders — even affecting Alpine ski resorts where Russians once flocked.

For the past decade, they've come in large numbers to ski the fabled Alpine slopes around Mont Blanc. But the drop in the ruble is now keeping them away. And that's having an effect on the wintertime economy in the region.

President Obama has said he will veto the Keystone XL pipeline project, which passed in the Senate on Wednesday. Historically, political scientists say 90 percent of veto threats are issued behind the scenes but Obama has issued nine veto threats so far — in public.

4 Reasons Why It's Veto Season At The White House

President Obama is about to get his first veto opportunity of the new Congress. A bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline project will be on his desk soon. He's promised to veto it and that's unusual. In his first six years in office, Obama issued just two vetoes — the fewest of any president going all the way back to James Garfield, and Garfield only served 199 days in office!

Arrested For Resisting Arrest — Yes, It's Possible

Earlier this week in a San Francisco courthouse, a deputy public defender named Jami Tillotson challenged police who were trying to take pictures of her client, and the police handcuffed her and took her away. The public defender's office angrily accused the officer of intimidation, but what caught our attention was the reason for her arrest.

A 2011 Subaru Legacy is among the nine vehicles that were found to have a driver fatality rate of zero in a new report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Car Safety Improves: Study Lists Those With Most, And Least, Driver Deaths

A record nine car models recorded driver death rates of zero, in a periodic study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The group's focus on 2011 models driven through 2012 also found the overall death rate fell by more than a third from its previous study.

The new study found that when looking at 2011 models through the 2012 calendar year, driver deaths per million registered vehicle years fell to 28; just three years earlier, the driver death rate was 48.

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