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September 24, 1998 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-09-24

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NATION/WORLD

The Michigan Daily - Thursday. September 24, 1998 - 9A

Hurricane Georges

Two new planets found
outside of solar system

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The Washington Post
Astronomers aided by a precocious
young amateur have found two new
planets orbiting Sun-like stars, includ-
ing one with the most Earth-like orbit
of any of the worlds detected outside
the solar system so far.
The discovery brings the total num-
ber of confirmed extra-solar planets to
an even dozen. But, until now, all the
planets were in orbits much closer to, or
much farther from, their stars than is
Earth, whose distance from the Sun's
warmth is within the so-called life zone
where conditions are neither too hot nor
too cold for life to evolve.
"We wondered if nature rarely puts
planets at one Earth-Sun distance," said
Geoffrey Marcy, of San Francisco State
University and the University of
California at Berkeley, whose team
detected the new planets with the pow-
erful Keck telescope in Hawaii. "Now

we know that such planets are not rare."
It is unlikely, however, that this partic-
ular planet harbors life. Located around a
star known only as l{D210277, 68 light
years away in the direction of the constel-
lation Aquarius, the planet is about the
mass of Jupiter Marcy said, which means
it is most likely another giant gas planet
with no hard surface.
Moreover, while the planet's average
distance from its star is just slightly
greater (by about 15 percent) than the
Earth-Sun distance of 93 million miles,
this planet actually travels along an oval-
shaped orbit that carries it twice as close
to its star and 1.6 times as far out as
Earth, with associated climate swings.
(Earth's orbit is almost perfectly circular.)
"It's really quite a dramatic swing,
reminiscent of comets," said Marcy.
Marcy, along with colleague Paul
Butler of the Anglo-Australian
Observatory in Australia, has discovered

nine of the dozen known extra-solar plan-
ets. lie noted that more than half of them
are in oval, or "eccentric" orbits. -
w The second newly discovered planet .
is another oddball -whipping around
its star at the smallest distance found so
far -- one twenty-fitlh the distance of'-
Earth from the Sun.The yellow star IID
187123, a near twin of the Sun, is locat-
ed 154 light years away in the direction
of Cygnus (the Swan). On this planet, a
"year" -- one complete circuit of the
star - lasts just three days.
Stephen Maran, spokesperson for the'
American Astronomical Society, said of
the latest findings: "They continue to
stretch perceptions of what solar sys-
tems are like ... (For example), it had,
been considered significant that none of'
the (extra-solar) planets had orbits like .
Earth's. Now it turns out it was just sta-
tistics. They didn't have a large enough
sample."

AP PHOTO
A resident in Altos de Chavon, La Romana, located 120 miles from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, surveys the damage
yesterday caused by Hurricane Georges which struck the country Tuesday.-

Employers craft new rules for workplace romance

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Los Angeles Times
After discovering last spring that two of his
executives were involved in an adulterous sexual
relationship, the owner of a Los Angeles manufac-
turing company acted swiftly.
But he didn't take the time-honored tack of
transferring, rebuking or firing one or both ofthe
lovers. Instead, he asked them to sign a two-page
contract -- an "informed consent" agreement
*nded to crimp their ability to sue the company
if the relationship ever turns ugly
Monica Ballard, a Santa Monica, Calif., consul-
tant hired to meet with the two executives and help
them through the legal procedure, called the inci-
dent a sign of how the workplace has changed. "In
the '50s, people sneaked around and had affairs,"
she said. "Now they have the CEO and strangers

they've never met coming in to chat in a very adult
way about their sex life."
This is the state of office romance in the late
1990s, an era when sexual harassment and other
types of workplace lawsuits have employers run-
ning scared. Fading away are the days when many
companies and government agencies would look
the other way and risk being hit up for sexual
harassment damages later.
At the same time, other bosses who once
would have acted on reflex and forced out some-
one suspected of having an office affair now are
responding more cautiously. Rather than invite
invasion-of-privacy or wrongful-termination
suits, some organizations are coming up with
more flexible solutions or trying to find a mid-
dIe ground in dealing with love in the work-

place.
Employers lately have been spurred to action by
recent U.S. Supreme Court sexual harassment rul-
ings.
Occasionally, top executives pay a steep price
for messy romantic entanglements, particularly if
harassment or other abuse is alleged.
Public agencies have focused mainly on
romances between bosses and their staffers. L.ast
month, for example, New Jersey Attorney General
Peter Verniero announced a "date-and-tell" policy
for his agency. Jnder the rule, supervisors are sup-
posed to report any "consensual personal relation-
ship" that they strike up with subordinates.
Although informed consent contracts such as
the one used by the Los Angeles manufacturing
company remain a rarity, they are drawing atten-

tion in legal circles.
Sometimes jocularly referred to as "love con-
tracts,' these agreements are being promoted by
San Francisco-based Littler Mendelson, the
biggest law firm in the nation that specializes
exclusively in employment issues. The pacts pro-
vide a measure of legal protection for employers
who lack other options.
These developments, all told, reflect an evolu-
tion in employers' thinking since the not-too-dis-
tant past when Ross Perot, the two-time presiden-
tial candidate, boasted that he fired adulterers
while he was head of Texas-based Electronic Data
Systems. Today, employers fret that fired adulter-
ers can sue for wrongful termination, claiming that
they were discriminated against because of their
marital status.

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schools curb violence
with various methods

The Wkashaogon Post
Eager to prevent their schools from
being the next target of violence, edu-
cators across the country are taking
extraordinary steps to root out poten-
Ey dangerous students long before
they reach for a gun.
A Pennsylvania school district even
sends children who just threaten vio-
lence through the same detention sys-
tem they would face if they commit a
burglary or rape. Georgia has set up
an anonymous toll-free hot line to
receive tips about possible violence.
An Oregon principal offers cash
,' ards for students who report
t eats. Chicago public high schools
now hold mandatory "advisory" peri-
ods each week, during which groups
of students meet with the same
teacher for a half-hour to talk about
their lives and problems. Many other
school districts have enacted zero-tol-
erance policies: One threat - no mat-
ter how trifling -- and you're out.
For years, schools have been impos-
ing strict weapons bans, tightening
War ity and even requiring children to
ar uniforms in a desperate effort to
reduce violence. But the new measures
represent an acknowledgment that cur-
tailing violence can sometimes mean
pinpointing problem children before
they strike out. What the schools hope
to avoid are the kinds of tragic ram-
pages that hit a half-dozen schools last

year, killing 12 students and two teach-
ers. In most of those cases, educators
note, the child culprits had sent out
warnings that they would strike well
before they attacked.
Charlottesville High School in
Virginia tightened its procedures after a
student who had been suspended for
cutting classes showed up at school.
Perhaps the trickiest aspect of track-
ing down threats, educators and stu-
dents agree, is getting children to
"snitch" on their peers. Often, children
rompted by that incident and by more
violent episodes he has read about in
the news, Thompson has ordered teach-
ers to report any mention of violence,
"even if it's a journal-writing section or
getting a note and passing it from one
student to another." Students who make
even a veiled threat face 10 days of sus-
pension.
The new policy represents a sharp
change from the past. Last year, when a
ninth-grader told another student he
was going to shoot Thompson, the prin-
cipal called the student and his parents
in, determined he "was just messing
around" and sent him on his way. "Now
I think I would have made a suspension
from school and made sure one of the
psychologists saw him."
'Te challenge, many educators say,
is figuring out whether a child who
makes a verbal threat is simply engag-
ing in idle playground chat.

September is AIDS Awareness Month
join us at the...
Michigan AIDS Walk
Sunday 9/27@2PM
Downtown Ann Arbor-Main and Williams
(Edison Parking Lot)
for further information, e-mail us or call 572-9355
gkexec.98@umich.edu
The Golden Key National Honor Society is an international organization that
recognizes the nation's brightest students. We promote service and social
opportunities to over 1000 members, and initiate campus wide activities such
as AIDS AWARENESS MONTH.

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____ ___ ____ ___ ____ _ E

Infinite opportunities.
Dynamic careers.

1

Tricia Ciee
began building her
future in 1995 within GE's
Technical Leadership
Program. Today, she's
an Account Manager
at GE Power Systems.

....

You have a future here.
Please Join Us for
Meet the Firms
Friday, September 25"
Office of Career Development
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Please con firm dates and times
with your Career Placement Olice
for any last minute changes.
www.gecareers.com

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