National briefs

Apple releases new 2006 laptop line

The new year brings Apple fans two welcome gifts: a new desktop iMac and a new line of professional laptops called the MacBook Pro laptop, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled last week at an Apple trade show.

The machines use new Intel chips, after Apple used IBM's PowerPC chips for years. The new chips allow for two to four times more power at the same price as previous Apple machines, The Washington Post reported.

The new machines also have integrated video cameras that can be used in over Apple's iChat instant messaging program.

This announcement ends Apple's line of PowerBook laptops, and begins Apple's conversion to using only Intel chips in its future professional desktop machines and consumer level laptops, Jobs said at the Macworld trade show. The conversion should be complete by July 2006 according to The Washington Post.


Congress may reduce student loans

Students and parents receiving loans from the federal government to pay for college may soon face higher interest rates and fees.

The U.S. Congress will soon vote on the Budget Reconciliation Bill, which will increase interest rates for parent loans for undergraduate students in an effort to decrease federal spending.

The bill would save the federal government $12.7 billion over time by increasing interest rates and fees on federal financial aid for students and their parents, said Hassan Hijazi, assistant director of federal relations at the University of Arizona.

Some students would benefit from the bill because provide more grant money, it would lower the origination fees of some loans and provide a 6.8 percent interest cap for federal Stafford student loans, Unrein said.

But the overall effect would result in "deep and harmful cuts" to the federal student loan programs, Unrein said.


Facebook provides background info for future employers

Facebook addicts beware: according to a document sent to campus career center directors nationwide, potential employers have begun to use the popular online forum to conduct a sort of background check on applicants.

"So far we haven't seen a problem with this on our campus," said University Of South Florida Career Center Director Drema Howard. "None of the employers we work with have asked about it yet, but that doesn't mean there aren't employers in the Tampa Bay area who are using it."

"I gave them the heads up that if it should come up, we need to address that employers are knowledgeable and do have access," said Dan VanHoose, assistant director of the South Florida Career Center.

While Facebook can be harmless when used with restraint, many students choose to post pictures of themselves drinking or performing sexual or illegal acts. There are also a slew of user groups involving drinking, drugs and sex that anyone can join.

Senior Stephanie Smith said she doesn't agree with the idea of employers being able to check student's information via the Web site.

"That is our college life, not our adult life," Smith said. "Who is to say that we haven't changed by that time? I doubt every employer I would interview with didn't do at least some of those same things when they were our age."

Howard has some advice for those who follow that school of thought, however.

"If you put something of very personal nature out there, you lose your right to choose who has access to it," Howard said. "You can actually negate yourself as a professional to an employer."


Former GW student files suit

Jordan Nott, a former George Washington University student, has filed suit against the GW Hospital and eight campus administrators after he was removed from the school following treatment for depression and suicidal thoughts according to The Hatchet, the GW student newspaper, which obtained the suit paperwork.

Nott was banned from campus, removed from classes and his dorm residence after seeking treatment according to the Hatchet.

In the suit, Nott alleges GW's mental illness policy discriminates against those who seek treatment. During Nott's sophomore year in the fall of 2004, he alleges information he told the GW Counseling Center was shared with university administrators without his permission. He also alleges this led to his suspension and barring from campus, the Hatchet reported. Nott is now a student at the University Of Maryland.

GW's media relations director declined to discuss the case and spoke for the University and the hospital saying GW is required to respond by Jan. 18. GW and Nott plan to meet on Feb. 24 to attempt to settle the suit, according to The Hatchet.


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