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Quick Takes: Alabama Legislators Must Leave 2-Year College Jobs, Blackboard and Turnitin Settle, Research Consortium Wins Antitrust Approval, Odd Jobs for College Athletes, Dalhousie Has Facebook Group Killed, E-Books That Smell

August 24, 2007
  • The Alabama Board of Education voted Thursday to bar community college employees from serving in the Legislature, effective in 2010, The Birmingham News reported. Many legislators hold such jobs, and critics have said for years that the system amounts to "double dipping" and creates conflicts of interest.
  • Blackboard and the company that owns Turnitin, the popular plagiarism-detection service, have settled their patent dispute, agreeing not to sue one another, Washington Business Journal reported. Blackboard announced in July that it was adding a plagiarism-detection feature to its course management system.
  • The Justice Department announced Thursday that it did not see antitrust issues in a planned energy research consortium involving the University of Texas and leading energy companies -- a key development in moving the project forward. The Advanced Energy Consortium plans to develop subsurface nanosensors that can be injected into oil and gas well bores. The data collected could enable the more efficient exploitation of hydrocarbon resources. The energy companies will pay the university to conduct the research. The university will own inventions resulting from the research, but each member that contributed to the development of any invention will receive a royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual license to use the invention for non-commercial internal purposes and will also have the independent right to make, use, and sell any patented inventions, subject to the payment of patenting costs. The university plans to license its rights to third parties in return for royalties. The companies involved are BP America, ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil, Occidental Oil and Gas, Shell International, Schlumberger Technology, and Halliburton Energy Services.
  • Why do some college athletes in effect clean up after others? It's the way non-revenue teams help support themselves, through odd jobs such as helping to clean up a stadium, The New York Times reported. The article explores the ethics of such arrangements.
  • Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, arranged to with Facebook to eliminate a group on the site devoted to opposing the university's alleged use of animals in research, Canada.com reported. The group, called "Stop Dogs and Puppies From Being Murdered at Dalhousie University," attracted thousands of members. University officials said that they did not have the site removed for being critical, but because it would not post responses from the university or correct inaccurate information. For instance, university officials said that the site featured pictures of dogs that appeared scared -- as if they were part of university experiments when they were not.
  • Many college students have been slow to embrace e-books, so Café Scribe, which offers online textbooks, commissioned a poll on what they most like about books in traditional form -- and 43 percent cited issues related to smell (either liking "old book" smell or "new book" smell. So the publisher announced that it would send scratch-and-sniff stickers to those students who buy e-books.
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