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In 23 Advanced Economies: U.S. Adults Rank 21st in Math Skills

The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on Friday released the initial results of an international survey of adult skills in literacy and mathematics, revealing that Americans rank 21st in "numeracy" and are tied for 15th in literacy among adults in 23 advanced economies.
obama & duncan
© APPresident Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a classroom.
American adults also scored below the average in both numeracy and literacy for all respondents in all 23 advanced economies.

Japan and Finland ranked first and second in both categories and Italy and Spain took the bottom two spots in both.

The international survey--the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)--was developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The data from Russia was not included in the initial results, the NCES said, "because they were released too late for publication."

"Numeracy" was defined by the survey as "the ability to access, use, interpret, and communicate mathematical information and ideas, to engage in and manage mathematical demands of a range of situations in adult life."

"Literacy" was defined as "understanding, evaluating, using and engaging with written text to participate in society to achieve one's goals and to develop one's knowledge and potential."

The survey tested a sample of approximately 5,000 Americans ages 16 to 65, using a test that was scored on a scale of 0-500.

In numeracy, American adults achieved an average score of 253 out of 500, nosing out Italian adults who averaged 247 and Spanish adults who averaged 246.


Canadian hamlet evacuated after oil train crash causes huge blaze

Emergency crews battle fire after tanker cars carrying crude oil and petroleum gas leak following derailment in Alberta

© Dan Riedlhuber/ReutersSmoke rises in the distance as firefighters block a highway leading to an area where a train derailed in the town of Gainford, Alberta
Emergency crews battled a massive fire on Saturday after a Canadian National tanker train carrying oil and gas derailed west of Edmonton, Alberta, overnight. No injuries have been reported so far.

A Canadian National spokesman, Louis-Antoine Paquin, said 13 cars four carrying petroleum crude oil and nine loaded with liquified petroleum gas came off the tracks around 1am local time in the hamlet of Gainford, about 50 miles from Edmonton. The entire community of roughly 100 people was evacuated.

Paquin said three cars containing gas were leaking and on fire. Local officials feared there could be an explosion and declared a state of emergency.

"It's still a risky situation so we need to contain as much as possible and keep people far away," said Carson Mills, spokesman for Parkland County, which includes Gainford.

A resident described hearing a series of crashes moments before a huge fireball shot into the sky. "The fireball was so big, it shot across both lanes of the Yellowhead [Highway] and now both lanes of the Yellowhead are closed and there's fire on both sides," said a witness identified only as Duane.


SOTT Focus: 'I'm Not Saying She Deserved To Be Raped, But...' Daisy Coleman and America's Culture of Psychopathy

Daisy Coleman: victim of America's culture of psychopathy
One of the most compelling non-fiction books I have ever read is 'In Broad Daylight' by Harry N. MacLean, a true account of the life and death of Ken Rex McElroy, a thief, conman and all round deplorable excuse for a human being from Skidmore, Nodaway County, Missouri, USA.

In vivid and shocking detail, MacLean exposes the truly psychopathic nature of McElroy as he intimidated, terrorised and abused his wives and children and the local population over a period of several years. Justice was a long time coming as McEIroy repeatedly thwarted attempts by the local police to catch him in the act, and used the legal system to get away with his egregious behavior. Eventually, after McEIroy shot a local store owner, the townspeople were galvanized to take the law into their own hands, and McEIroy was shot dead 'in broad daylight' on a street in Skidmore as he sat in his truck. No one was ever charged with his murder. Few, if any, mourned his passing.

I was reminded of Ken McEIroy's story recently because the residents of a town in the same Nodaway County Missouri (and not far from Skidmore) have been in the news.

In January 2012, 14-year-old Daisy Coleman and a 13-year-old girl friend snuck out of Daisy's house in Maryville, Nodaway County, at around 1am and met up with a couple of 'jocks' from their local high school. One of the 'jocks', Matthew Barnett, and a friend drove Daisy and her friend to Barnett's house. Daisy was given a tall glass of clear alcohol that the boys called the "bitch cup"; after that, she remembers nothing until a few hours later when, in a state of near hypothermia her mother, Melinda, found her scratching at the door of her house. It was while Melinda was helping Daisy to bathe that she saw the redness around her daughter's genitalia and buttocks. It hurt, Daisy said, when her mother asked about it. Then Daisy began crying.


Rome: Massive rallies against austerity turn violent

Violence broke out between police and demonstrators in Rome on Saturday as tens of thousands took to the streets to protest Italy's new budget. Fifteen protesters were arrested and at least 20 police officers were injured, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.


Priest's accuser of child-mo­lest­ation and rape "unexpectedly" dies

The wit­ness against a 75-year-old Ro­man Cath­ol­ic priest ac­cused of mo­lest­ing a North­east al­tar boy died sud­denly, the dis­trict at­tor­ney's of­fice an­nounced this af­ter­noon.

The 26-year-old man, who in Janu­ary had ac­cused the Rev. Robert Bren­nan of sexu­ally ab­us­ing him from 1998 to 2001, was found dead this week­end by Phil­adelphia po­lice de­tect­ives, ac­cord­ing to a DA's of­fice news re­lease. The man, whose name has not been re­leased, died of an ac­ci­dent­al drug over­dose, ac­cord­ing to Marci A. Hamilton, one of his at­tor­neys.

"It is with great sad­ness that I have to an­nounce that the vic­tim in the rape and as­sault case against Robert Bren­nan passed away un­ex­pec­tedly," stated Dis­trict At­tor­ney Seth Wil­li­ams. "The dec­ades-long demons and scars the vic­tim in this case en­dured ended this week­end when he was found dead by Phil­adelphia Po­lice De­tect­ives. I can not say enough about the bravery this young man dis­played in com­ing for­ward to bring these crimes to light. This young man's cour­age should serve as an in­spir­a­tion to us all."


House stenographer yanked from chamber ranting about God, freemasons

A government stenographer is believed to be in a Washington, DC-area hospital on Thursday after being forcibly removed from the House of Representatives chamber Wednesday night while shouting into the microphone during the vote on a compromise bill that ended the government shutdown and raised the debt limit.

U.S. Capitol Police told ABC News that the stenographer, who helps keep the record of the proceedings of the House, was interviewed by officers before being transported to a hospital "for evaluation."

The woman was Dianne Reidy, an official reporter with the Office of the Clerk, two sources told ABC News.

She was not arrested or charged and it remains unknown whether she will keep her job. Since last night, the Office of the Clerk has not responded to inquiries seeking comment.


Dozens, not thousands, show up for DC trucker protest

truckers for constitution2
© Associated Press

A trucker protest aimed at clogging the Capital Beltway around Washington to protest government "corruption" was not shaping up to be quite the commuter nightmare organizers had threatened.

As of Friday morning, dozens of tractor-trailers were said to be on the road as part of the protest convoy.

Virginia state police say they stopped four tractor-trailer drivers on the Beltway, pulling them over after they began driving side-by side across all four northbound lanes of the Beltway in Fairfax County.

Their actions slowed traffic to about 15 mph. Officers warned the drivers not to impede traffic and did not write any tickets.

Police say a convoy of about 30 trucks began traveling north on Interstate 95 from Doswell, Va., on Friday morning. The truckers are circling the Beltway.

Brick Wall

Alexandra Harris, jailed Greenpeace activist, writes heartbreaking letter to parents from Russia

Alexandra Harris
© GreenpeaceAlexandra Harris
A British environmental campaigner facing 15 years for alleged piracy has said she is "trying very, very hard not to lose hope," in heartbreaking letter to her parents in which she describes her dire conditions in a Russian jail.

Greenpeace activist Alexandra Harris was yesterday denied bail following a month in prison for her part in a protest against oil company Gazprom's platform in the Arctic's Pechora Sea.

She is one of six Britons among 30 people detained when armed Russian officials boarded their vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, last month.


Blonde girl found in Roma camp in Greece prompts search for parents

blonde girl found
This is one of the pictures of the blonde girl that the Greek police issued in hopes that her biological parents are found
Greek police have asked Interpol to help them track down the real parents of a blonde girl with green eyes who was found in a Roma camp in central Greece.

Known as Maria, the four-year-old was spotted peeking out from under a blanket at a Romasettlement near the town of Farsala during a police sweep on Wednesday for suspected drug trafficking.

She speaks just a few words in the Roma dialect and Greek, and police think she may be of northern or eastern European origin, possibly from Scandinavia or Bulgaria.

Police have sent Interpol a file with all the evidence they have on the girl, including DNA samples, to seek a possible match with its records on missing children, a police official said. They have also contacted international groups and charities that deal with lost or abducted children.

"Mystery - a blonde angel without an identity," top-selling daily Ta Nea wrote on its front page on Saturday.

Photos released by police of Maria staring blankly at the camera with muddy hands and scruffy pigtails have dominated the media. Parallels were drawn to the case of Briton Madeleine McCann, who vanished while on holiday in Portugal in 2007, when she was three years old.

People 2

Powerful ads use real google searches to show the scope of sexism worldwide

Here's a simple and powerful campaign idea from UN Women using real suggested search terms from Google's autocomplete feature. Campaign creator Christopher Hunt, head of art for Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, offers this summary: "This campaign uses the world's most popular search engine (Google) to show how gender inequality is a worldwide problem. The adverts show the results of genuine searches, highlighting popular opinions across the world wide web." Each ad's fine print says "actual Google search on 09/03/13." While Google users in different countries are likely to get different results, a quick test shows that several of these suggested terms definitely come up in U.S. searches. Since its creation, autocomplete has become a popular device for social debate and even inspired a recent epic visual from xkcd, but these ads do a stellar job driving home the daunting fact that enough people around the world share these vile opinions that Google has come to expect them. Check out all the design versions after the jump. Via Design Taxi.

women need to