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December 07, 2009 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-12-07

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, December 7, 2009 - 3A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, Decemher 7, 2009 - 3A

* UN climate science
head hopes for more
action from the US
By executive action, the Obama
administration can boost the U.S.
target for reducing greenhouse
gas emissions beyond levels envi-
sioned in legislation working its
way through Congress, the head of
the U.N. climate science network
said yesterday.
"There is scope for going above
what is going to be legislated,"
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of
the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, told The Associ-
ated Press on the eve of the U.N.
climate conference in Copenha-
Senate and House bills capping
carbon dioxide emissions would
reduce them by 17 to 20 percent by
2020, compared with 2005 levels.
Compared with 1990 levels, the
standard U.N. benchmark, that's
only a 3-4 percent reduction,
experts calculate, a contribution
far short of what scientists say is
needed among industrial coun-
tries to avoid dangerous climate
White House still
lacks solid intel on
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden may be slip-
ping back and forth from Paki-
stan to Afghanistan. Or the U.S.
might not have a clue, more than
eight years after the al-Qaida
leader masterminded the terrorist
attacks on America.
Given a chance yesterday to
clear away some of the mystery
surrounding the whereabouts of
the world's most wanted terror-
ist, Obama administration offi-
cials seemed to add to it with what
appeared to be conflicting assess-
President Barack Obama's
national security adviser, James
Jones, said bin Laden, believed
hiding mainly in a rugged area of
western Pakistan, may be periodi-
cally slipping back into Afghani-
stan. But Obama's Pentagon chief,
Robert Gates, said the U.S. has
lacked good intelligence on bin
Laden for a long time - "I think it
has been years" - and did not con-
firm that he'dsiped into Afghan-
Report suggests that
Michigan target
pensions for taxes
A national study questions
whether financially strapped
Michigan should continue its gen-
erous tax exemptions for retirees
on pensions.
If retired public employees,
those on private pensions and with-
drawals from IRAS and similar
retirement plans that are currently
exempt were taxed, the state could
collect as much as $700 million

more a year according to figures
from the state treasury, the Detroit
Free Press reported yesterday.
A recent study by the Pew Cen-
ter on the States questioned the
wisdom of those exemptions. The
study ranked Michigan among the
10 most financially troubled states
and said it has a growing elder-ly
population that requires more state
services but contributes little rev-
* Marshals use
website to track
Mich. sex offender
Authorities used a social net-
working Web site to track a man
wanted for failing to register as a
sex offender in Michigan.
The Herald-Palladium reports
that authorities in Topeka, Kan.,
have arrested Tommy Lee Col-
burn, formerly of Benton Harbor,
Mich. He was awaiting extradition
Sunday in the Shawnee. County
Jail. Jail officers had no record of
an attorney for Colburn.
Michigan state police say U.S.
marshals tracked 30-year-old Col-
burn's movements through a social
networking Web site.
Berrien County authorities
issued a warrant for his arrest
in 2006 for alleged violations of
the Sex Offender Registry Act.
Colburn had been convicted of
criminal sexual conduct involv-
ing a child.
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports

From Page 1A
day, MSA's Election Board met to
certify results and notify candidates
of their positions. But because of
the delay in confirming schools,
the positions of write-in candidates
could not yet be certified.
Students whose names appear
on the ballot must apply and have
their information checked before
the election. However, because
write-in candidates don't have to
apply to the Election Board before-
hand, the schools they are enrolled
in aren't verified until after the
election is over.
According to MSA President
Abhishek Mahanti, the Office of the
Register would not release the data
From Page 1A
a student-wide ballot one of three
ways: by a duly created constitu-
tional convention, a two-thirds
majority vote by MSA, or by an
individual student or student
group with 1,000 student signa-
tures in support of the changes.
About 20 members of the for-
mer Constitutional Convention
have expressed interest in the
student group, according to MSA
Vice President Mike Rorro, for-
mer chair of the convention.
MSA Student General Coun-
sel Jim Brusstar, former conven-
tion secretary, and MSA Rules
and Elections Committee Chair
Michael Benson, former conven-
tionvice chair,willalsobeinvolved
in the new student group.
Rorro said that although many
of the student group members are
former convention members, and
the group retains the same lead-
ership, this student group is dis-
tinctly different.
"It's not the same thing, even
though there are some of the same
people involved in it, we recog-
nize that, we're not trying to hide
that," Rorro said. "We're not try-
ing to seclude ourselves within
the same group of people and con-
tinue work by limiting people."
Former MSA Rep. Tim Hull dis-
agrees. Hull said the involvement
of MSA executive board members
in the student group makes it hard
to believe the group is really sepa-
rate from MSA.
"MSA execs are participating
in it and I feel, (though) that might
be permissible under the Consti-
tution, the circumstances behind
the formation of this group make
it hard to confer legitimacy," Hull

to Susan Wilson, director of Office
of Student Activities and Leadership,
who has been filling in for Awai-Wil-
liams, even though Awai-Williams
technicallyreports to Wilson.
"(Wilson) has been tryingto get
the data in a pretty timely fashion,
but for some reason they have not
been able to get us the data," Mah-
anti said.
Despite the confusion, Mahanti
said the Registrar's Office has been
helpful with trying to get the elec-
tion results certified.
Mahanti said he believes MSA
will be able to get the names veri-
fied today. However, the MSA
Compiled Code requires the Steer-
ing Committee to hear official
election results before the candi-
dates can be sworn in.
The committee, which meets
Rorro -said the group acknowl-
edges that there are members who
also serve on MSA, but since the
attempt to amend the constitution
through a body connected to MSA
failed, forming a student group is
the best option.
"We ran for student govern-
ment to fix things and to make
it a better University and unfor-
tunately we couldn't do that
through the MSA's procedure,
because it's not well-defined
and it continues to not be well-
defined," Rorro said.
According to the group leaders,
one of the goals of the revisions
will be to clarify the procedures
within the constitution that the
convention violated.
"We attempted to work within
the process and were unable to,"
Benson said. "One of the reasons
we're trying to change this docu-
ment is to make it so things are
easier, (so) it's clear."
To become a member of the
student group, a student must be
nominated by a current member
and then garner a majority vote of
the group. Rorro said this process
makes it much easier to join the
group than it was to be a part of
the convention.
Rorro said that because the stu-
dent group will need 1,000 signa-
tures before the document goes
up for a student-wide vote, the
process is valid, even with MSA
members in the sudent group.
"It's not an undemocratic pro-
cess," Rorro said, "because it
might be a small group making
the changes, but we're having
everyone look it over and finally
every student that votes in the
election is going to have a say
in that."
Brusstar said amending the
constitution through a non-
MSA affiliated student group

every Sunday, met last night and is
not scheduled to meet again before
tomorrow's MSA meeting.
Mahanti said the write-in can-
didates will be informed they won
and will be invited to Tuesday's
meeting, which is the last one of the
semester. They will then be sworn
in at the first MSA meeting next
semester on Jan.12.
Mahanti said he plans to work
with the candidates during winter
"We'll keep in touch with them
over break, and it gives us time to
get them to learn the rules of the
road," he said.
Though the candidates will
eventually be seated, Mahanti said
the delay was unnecessary.
"This has kind of put a hitch in
everything," he said.
is better than through a Consti-
tutional Convention because the
group is more open to the student
Hull said he thinks MSA should
amend the constitution internally,
possibly by creating a select com-
mittee to propose changes and
then gain a two-thirds vote of the
assembly to add them to the bal-
Rorro said he thinks the pro-
cess of amending the constitution
will be most effective if it is some-
what separated from MSA. He
said it's hard for MSA representa-
tives to support large changes to
a governmental system they are
central to.
"The inherent ability to chal-
lenge the status quo effectively is
not there when you have only peo-
ple that work within the system,"
he said.
The student group must submit
their completed petition to the
CSJ five weeks before the election,
which will take place sometime in
March. Rorro said the group is
planning to acquire the necessary
signatures the week before spring
Rorro said he plans to hold
town hall-style meetings and talk
to student groups to get the 1,000
Though the former Constitu-
tional Convention had been meet-
ing for about two months before
CSJ ordered the meetings to cease,
Brusstar said the convention got
"bogged down" in procedure and
was not very efficient.
Rorro said that in the past week
the student group seems to be
making faster progress.

From Page 1A
feedback on their paper before
they have to turn it in for a grade,"
Speagle said.
According to the Mindbounce
website, students upload a docu-
ment and indicate an "academic
tag" - subjects ranging from
genetics to African studies. A
writing mentor who specializes
in that academic field then reads
the document and provides feed-
back on content, style or grammar,
called "bounces."
Part of Speagle's job as qual-
ity assurance manager is to make
sure these mentors are up to par
in their writing abilities. To test
these abilities, mentors are asked
to rewrite a poorly written essay.
"The essay is the biggest indica-
tor in how well they can write or
review something," Speagle said.
"And so after we read the essay,
we'll go over their r6sum6 and
then we invite them into the men-
tor pool."
According to Speagle, the web-
site employs more than a thou-
sand mentors from places from
Germany to Australia and from
backgrounds ranging from Ph.D
candidates to lawyers.
The company offers 10 free
"bounces" for first-time users.
However, these free trials also
serve as trial runs for new men-
tors, which Speagle and his team
use to evaluate the mentors. If
potential members prove strong
enough, they become paid men-
Students choose the amount of
"bounces" they want per essay.
Mindbounce's website advertises
that $9.99 translates to "4-5 pieces
of crucial feedback."
Though Speagle said feedback
currently takes as long as 12 to
24 hours to return, he said in the
future essays will likely take only
a few hours to return as busi-
ness increases and the company

expands its mentor pool.
While Speagle said using Mind-
bounce isn't necessarily better
than going to see a teacher, he said
there were some advantages, like
receiving feedback from varying
"With the varying mentor per-
spectives and each one coming
from their own educational back-
ground, it allows the document to -
get feedback from multiple peo-
ple," he said.
Speagle said while college stu- -
dents arethe primarygroup Mind-
bounce caters to, the company also
hopes to expand to other people in
need of writing help.
"Colleges are one area of our -
target areas, but also I think
Mindbounce is really important
for people who for whatever rea-
-son were not given an adequate
education while growing up," said
LSA junior Hilary Markus said
she thinks Mindbounce is a "good
idea in theory."
"I don't know if I would person-
ally use it, but I think a lot of stu-
dents would take advantage of it,"
she said.
First-year Law student Julie
Bernard said she currently uses
senior judge editors - similar to
graduate student instructors -
and professors for feedback, but
that she would be open to using a
service like Mindbounce.
"I think it would be good to
have an objective set of eyes on
your work," Bernard said. "Imight
be worried about the quality of'
the person that is reading it, but I
think to have a second set of eyes
- that isn't your friend is a good
Engineering sophomore Chris
Fowlkes said he would consider
using Mindbounce for technical
"I'm in engineering, and I'll be
writing a lot of papers based on
technical composition," he said.
"That would help a lot just to veri-
fy technical things."

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