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Sunday, Aug 19, 2018
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Georgia State now an engine of social mobility; groups challenge Iowa’s restrictive abortion law; more in U.S. news


Reinvention by morals, data

For decades, Georgia State was Atlanta’s unremarkable commuter school, founded "as a night school for white businessmen," as a spokeswoman says, and kept segregated until the 1960s. But the college has been re-imagined — amid a moral awakening and a raft of data-driven experimentation — as one of the South’s more innovative engines of social mobility. By focusing on retaining low-income students, Georgia State raised its graduation rate to 54 percent in 2017 from 32 percent in 2003. And for the last five years, it has awarded more bachelor’s degrees to African-Americans than any other nonprofit college or university nationwide. It has also changed Atlanta, home to some of the nation’s most renowned historically black colleges. They came into being because the state used to reject or neglect black students. But now, a state-funded college is serving as an inspiration, even to colleges worldwide. Among the strategies: data analysis to detect any potential trouble for undergraduate academic advisers to swoop in; summer sessions on tutoring, advising and financial literacy; and programs meant to provide the safety net for poor students that wealthier students get from home.


Severe abortion law is challenged

A lawsuit challenging the nation’s most restrictive abortion law was filed Tuesday in Iowa, a state that for years was largely left out of Republican efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade and where the Democratic attorney general has refused to defend the law. If allowed to take effect July 1 as planned, the law would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, around the sixth week of pregnancy. Abortion-rights groups say that’s a time when many women do not know they are pregnant. The ACLU of Iowa and Planned Parenthood announced the filing of the complaint in Des Moines. The lawsuit argues the law violates the state Constitution by banning nearly all abortions and putting women’s health at risk. It seeks an injunction to halt the law’s implementation. Litigation could take years.


Jews, Muslims seek solidarity

As turmoil spreads through the Middle East, American Jews and Muslims have been forming alliances to build trust and seek solidarity in more ambitious ways than in the past, a sharp contrast to the violence engulfing their homelands this week. Muslims and Jews have learned about each other’s faiths in mosques and synagogue, made a joint trip to tour civil rights sites in the South and formed partnerships involving CEOs of major corporations. Leaders said the challenging world events have provided impetus for the outreach efforts, including violence against Palestinians in Gaza, Trump moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Muslim travel ban and rising hate crimes. Los Angeles’ NewGround provides leadership training programs for several hundred professionals from the two communities. One recent event was a backyard supper at which guests discussed their religions’ approach to death. Participants were moved by similarities in their grieving and rituals.


Bill seeks to end ‘meal shaming’

Wendy Timmons said all she wanted to do was serve children a hot lunch and make them smile. But if an elementary student’s family fell behind in paying their meal account, "I had to take the meal away," Timmons said. A server would then offer an "alternative" lunch — generally a cold cheese sandwich. The uneaten hot lunch, for sanitary reasons, would be thrown out. Critics refer to such policies as "meal shaming" or "lunch shaming," because of the humiliation, and starvation, it can cause children. Timmons was among those urging the state Legislature’s education committee on Tuesday to approve a measure aimed at preventing students from being punished when they have no fault. The committee voted to study it further. The bill seeks, among other things, to prohibit public schools from forcing a child to accept an alternative meal or taking other actions, such as barring students from extracurricular activities or even graduation ceremonies.


Facebook better at policing nudity than hate: Getting rid of racist, sexist and other hateful remarks on Facebook is more challenging than weeding out other posts because computer programs still stumble over the nuances of human language, Facebook said Tuesday. Its self-assessment showed its policing system detected up to 99.5 percent of violations in graphic violence, gratuitous nudity and terrorist propaganda. For hate speech, it identified 38 percent.

Don’t teach what you don’t know: Adam Anderson, 25, says he was demonstrating a safer way to carry a pistol when he accidentally killed roommate Holden Guyette, 22, in their New Hampshire apartment. Police say Anderson recklessly caused the death by failing to ensure the handgun was unloaded and clear Sunday when he aimed it at Guyette’s chest. Anderson, who says he’s used guns since childhood, is charged with manslaughter. — tbt* wires

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