Watercooler Stories

By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International  |  March 19, 2003 at 4:00 AM
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At the urging of the NAACP, officials of Clayton County, Ga., have held a town hall meeting to assess the quality of education.

County schools, according to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, have been in a state of flux since part of the school board unexpectedly fired Superintendent Dan Cowell in January.

The hub-bub about the firing and debate among county leaders have kept what some see as the real issue, the flagging state of county schools, off the front burner.

The NAACP, therefore, invited members of the school board and other administrators to come to talk with parents, teachers and students to work up a plan to improve schools.

The county's SAT scores have fallen each of the past three years. Additionally, students in the county scored below the Georgia state average on the state's Criterion-Referenced Curriculum Test.


The Idaho Senate was shut down for a day this week to remember the late son of the group's majority leader. Cameron Wade Davis, 23, was shot to death at a house party near Boise State University. The Idaho Statesman says the computer science major was the son of state Sen. Bart Davis.

Police arrested a 21-year-old fellow student in connection with the shooting. He was booked into the Ada County Jail on charges of second-degree murder.

It was only last month the accused gunman had received a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Even though he had a drunk-driving conviction on his record, Vincent Olsen was issued the permit.

Police say issuing a permit to a person who has a DUI conviction is not uncommon, though other convictions often preclude getting a permit. Witnesses told police during an argument Davis threw a beer at Olsen, who pulled his handgun and fired twice.


Texas police say two men died this week in a one-car accident involving a Lexus that was going more than 100 mph. The Houston Chronicle says the auto became airborne, crashed into a tree and snapped in half, further disintegrating.

One part of the car was imbedded in the tree, the remaining section split off and fell into pieces, striking a parked car along the way, scattering wreckage over a 200-foot-long area.

The men in the car, both 23, died instantly. The car had been clocked doing over 100 mph by a sheriff's deputy.

The paper says the officer had turned to give chase when he suddenly saw the car leave the ground and the accident happen.


The copycat effect is 14 times more likely after a celebrity suicide, says a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Newspaper reports are more powerful than television coverage of a suicide, the paper adds.

Researchers used statistical analysis to re-assess some 293 findings from 42 published studies investigating the impact of suicide stories reported in the media.

Studies of celebrity suicides were more than 14 times as likely to find a copycat effect, while studies of real life, as opposed to fictional suicides, were more than 4 times as likely to uncover a copycat effect.

The researchers point to earlier evidence showing suicide rates were 12 percent higher in the month of Marilyn Monroe's suicide in 1962.

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