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UT News

In the Know

The June 21 weekly roundup of campus kudos and press mentions.

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Campus Kudos

Benson collection honored by Mexico City
Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon has awarded the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection the Medalla 1808, an award presented for contributions to the study and development of Mexican history and culture. The Benson was cited as “honorably representing Mexico’s history through its highly recognized achievements in the field of academic and research development” by the History Awards Committee composed of directors of the Mexican Academy of History, El Colegio de México and the Institute of Historical Research at UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico).

Education receives its largest grant ever
The University of Texas at Austin’s Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk has been awarded a $20 million, five-year grant by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the largest ever received by the College of Education. The grant will fund research projects that contribute to and support the IES’s Reading for Understanding Research Initiative. The initiative’s primary aim is to improve students’ reading comprehension from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.

Press Mentions

BusinessWeek: Obama vows BP will pay for Gulf well ‘recklessness’
June 16

As devastation from the worst U.S. oil spill mounts, President Barack Obama vowed that BP Plc will pay for all damage caused by its “recklessness” and that the government would commit to restoring the Gulf Coast.

Even though 71 percent of Americans in a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted June 11-13 say Obama hasn’t been tough enough in dealing with BP, his overall approval ratings haven’t suffered, according to Gallup’s daily tracking poll.

Historians said it’s difficult to compare the spill to past crises that have beset presidents, such as Hurricane Katrina under President George W. Bush and the Iran hostage crisis during President Jimmy Carter’s administration.

The spill doesn’t pose the same national security threat as the hostage crisis and there was more immediate and obvious devastation and loss of life from Katrina, said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at The University of Texas in Austin.

“This is loss of livelihood and slow torture,” said Buchanan. “It’s quite unique.”

The Wall Street Journal: BP relied on cheaper wells
June 19

In recent years, oil giant BP Plc used a well design that has been called “risky” by Congressional investigators in more than one out of three of its deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico, significantly more often than most peers, a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data shows.

A Journal analysis of records provided by the U.S. Minerals Management Service shows that BP used the less costly design — called “long string” — on 35 percent of its deepwater wells since July 2003, the earliest date the well-design data were available.

“It was a safe and accepted method, but it is not the most conservative method. The most conservative would be to make sure there is not a straight shot [for gas] up to the surface, that you cement everything in place,” says Greg McCormack, director of The University of Texas at Austin Petroleum Extension Service.

USA Today: Fears of inflation, or worse, fuel gold price rise. But wait.
June 20

If stocks are the investment of greed, gold is the investment of fear. And fear is in a bull market.

Scared that the only way to pay the nation’s $8.9 trillion debt is to print more money? Gold soars in inflationary periods. Think the dollar will plunge on international currency markets? Buy gold. Worried that the U.S. is headed for a revolution? Buy gold, which rises in value when governments fall.

Governments have always had critics, and opponents of paper money have been griping since the government ceased making gold coins in 1932. But today’s fears run deeper. The soul-searing bear markets of this decade and the banking system’s staggering losses have shown just how ephemeral money is. “In a real sense, it was all a fiction,” says Art Markman, professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin.

CNN: Why do we need to look for Bigfoot?
June 21

Watch out! It’s 10 feet tall and hairy, and it could be coming to get you — or your dogs!

Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, is said to be an ape-like monster but has never been proved to exist.

Across human societies, variations on mythical creature stories like that of Bigfoot have persisted for thousands of years, and accounts of seeing or hearing them still abound.

Believing in these creatures and following their trails in the forest is somewhat akin to an amusement park ride: They are safe ways of experiencing fear, said Jacqueline Woolley, professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin.

Read last week’s In the Know.