- Olaf Heine
Despite the hordes of angry iTunes users that protested the auto-synchronization of U2's new album into their libraries, it appears the band's strategy paid off. A quarter of all iTunes users listened to Songs of Innocence, making U2 the "most-listened-to act" on the iOS platform in January, according to a study conducted by the Kantar Group, surpassing chart-dominators Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, who earned only 11 percent and 8 percent of all plays, respectively.
Source: Consequence of Sound
The Obama administration has cracked down on student debt resulting from for-profit colleges in recent years. The "gainful employment" regulation adopted in 2011 requires for-profit institutions to meet at least one of the following three conditions: 35 percent of former students repay their loans, the estimated annual graduate loan payment doesn't exceed 30 percent of their discretionary income, and the estimated annual loan payment doesn't exceed 12 percent of their total earnings. As a result, a number of private colleges are turning nonprofit to avoid having to follow the new regulations and to earn tax write-offs. The New York Times focused on Sarasota, Florida-based Keiser University, a for-profit institution that its owner, Arthur Keiser, sold to a nonprofit created by the institution itself, Everglades College. As a result, he's receiving interest and payments on more than $321 million he lent the nonprofit. In addition, as president of Everglades, Keiser earns an annual salary of $856,000.
Source: Time, New York Times
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was fighting against state lawmakers collecting outside income involving pending legislation when he signed a book deal with HarperCollins, a subsidiary of News Corporation, after backing a series of initiatives that would benefit the publisher. Those initiatives included a special tax break for online-only publications that charge for subscriptions (like the tabloid newspaper The Daily, which News Corporation was investing tens of millions of dollars in at the time) and a special tax exemption for electronic books (which are sold by HarperCollins). Gov. Cuomo's book deal has already earned him $188,000 and could potentially net him more than $700,000 despite its meager sales.
Source: Insider Business Times
For the first time in over a century, Galapagos giant tortoises have successfully reproduced in the wild without human interference. Dr. James Gibb, the associate chair of the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, stumbled across 10 newly hatched baby saddleback tortoises on Pinzón Island during a recent population survey. In the 1960s, there were only about 100 of this kind of Galapagos tortoises left. The Galapagos National Park was founded in 1959, and began a conservation effort for the tortoises that included collecting eggs and raising hatchlings in captivity. The invasive black rat, introduced by whaling ships in the 17th and 18th centuries, posed the largest threat to the baby tortoises. In 2012, in an initiative known as "Project Pinzón," 40 tons of poisoned rat bait were dumped via helicopter over the island to help counter the problem.
Source: Geographical UK
A recent marketing campaign by McDonald's called "Your Questions, Our Food" attempts to make food production processes transparent for consumers. Part of that initiative includes McDonald's announcement this month to start using chicken raised without antibiotics used to treat humans and offer milk from cows not treated with rBST, an artificial growth hormone. Antibiotic-laced meats have created antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pathogens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the organization has become "increasingly vocal about its concerns." While McDonald's won't use human-class antibiotics, they're still allowing additives that increase feed efficiency and promote weight gain in the animals, unlike Wendy's and Burger King. Chik-fil-A stopped using antibiotics in their chicken a year ago, and Panera hasn't used antibiotics in more than a decade. Since 2011, McDonald's has been selling more chicken than beef.
Source: New York Times
Hiking Mount Everest is one of the most challenging feats in the world, and more than 700 climbers and guides risk life and limb attempting to reach its summit during the two-month season each year. As a result, human feces left on Mt. Everest have polluted the area and added "disease" to the long list of threats facing the climbers. The four camps scattered between the base and summit provide places for climbers to acclimate to the lack of oxygen at the high altitudes. While they have tents, equipment, and supplies, they do not have toilets, and human waste litters the surrounding area. Nepal's government is implementing new rules starting this season that require climbers to bring down 18 lbs. of trash to base camp based on the approximate amount of waste produced by each individual climber, with a required $4,000 deposit put down at the beginning of their trip.
Fifteen upstate New York towns are considering secession following Governor Andrew Cuomo's ban on fracking. The towns located in Broome, Delaware, Tioga, and Sullivan Counties are threatening to move to Pennsylvania, where fracking is legal. The towns are located on the Marcellus Shale, which contains a large amount of natural gas accessible through fracking. The Southern Tier of New York, which runs along the state's border with Pennsylvania, is like "a kid in a candy store window, looking through the window, and not able to touch that opportunity," Karen Moreau, executive director of the New York State Petroleum Council, told the New York Times, referring to their financially thriving neighbors in the Keystone State.
Sources: PBS, Good Magazine
A United Nations analysis found that more than one in three women worldwide have experienced physical violence in their lifetime, one in 10 girls under the age of 18 have been forced to have sex, and 38 percent of murdered women were killed by their partners. The alarming statistics were presented to the General Assembly last month following a litany of crimes against women worldwide, including the New Delhi bus rape, women forced into sex slavery by Iraqi jihadists, and the rash of sexual assault cases in American universities. Member governments of the UN adopted a nonbinding declaration to uphold promises made at a 1995 Beijing conference, in which they vowed to ensure women's equality. The declaration includes language on reproductive rights and a pledge to work for women's equal rights by 2030.
Source: New York Times
Compiled by Kelly Seiz