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Quick Takes: Animal Rights Group Attacks UCLA Van, Obama Talks Student Aid, Recovery in Iowa, Virginia Tech Settlement, Minerva Proposals, Montclair's Green Pledge

June 18, 2008
  • An unoccupied van of the University of California at Los Angeles was torched last week, and the Animal Liberation Front has claimed responsibility, blaming researchers for necessitating the attach. Groups opposed to any animal research have made UCLA a target, and many researchers have experienced vandalism, picketing and harassment on and off campus. Gene Block, UCLA's chancellor, issued a statement in which he said: "I am deeply disturbed that, yet again, extremists have resorted to acts of violence in an attempt to achieve their goal to end all laboratory research involving animals. In this most recent apparent act of terror against UCLA, the extremists have crossed yet another threshold and directed violence at individuals and property not associated with animal research."
  • On Tuesday, for the second day in a row, Sen. Barack Obama focused on education. In several meetings at Wayne County Community College, he met students who described their difficulties paying for college, and the Democratic presidential candidate pitched his student aid plans. On Monday, Obama linked education to the competitiveness of the U.S. economy and was accused by the campaign of Republican Sen. John McCain for pushing for higher taxes. In his comments Tuesday, Obama challenged McCain on student aid. The Detroit News quoted Obama as saying: "This isn't an issue you hear Sen. John McCain talk about much. It's not just that he doesn't have a real plan to make college affordable. It's that he has voted time and time again to stop us from making college affordable."
  • Iowa colleges continue to struggle to deal with flooding. The University of Iowa is reporting enough progress to schedule the resumption of summer classes on Monday. Mount Mercy College has closed its campus through Friday. Most buildings at Coe College were not damaged, but one that was flooded had wiring for the campus power system, so most of the campus has been without power for days. Coe had about 100 students on the campus -- mainly for summer research programs -- and they were evacuated, some to Cornell College. Coe has many summer conferences and sports camps, and hopes by June 30 to be back on track.
  • A Virginia judge on Wednesday approved an $11 million settlement of claims of families of those killed and injured in last year's shootings at Virginia Tech, The Roanoke Times reported. Both Virginia Tech and the state denied liability in the shootings, but also pushed for a settlement, which requires state and university officials to hold additional meetings with the families.
  • The Pentagon has released the first formal requests for proposals for "Minerva" projects -- a new program designed to promote social science research on topics that relate to important security concerns. The agency's announcement is consistent with previous official statements about the program, popular with some university leaders and worrisome to some scholars, who question the Pentagon's ability to run peer review in the social sciences.
  • Montclair State University, in New Jersey, has become the first college to enter a formal agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to pledge to meet environmental standards for construction and operation of facilities.
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