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'Shouldn't we move?' Ferry evacuation under scrutiny

National shock at a ferry disaster that may have killed hundreds of South Korean schoolchildren was mixed with fury Thursday over growing evidence that many passengers were denied a proper chance to escape. Multiple survivor testimony highlighted the fact that passengers were repeatedly told to stay in their seats or cabins when the ferry first ran into trouble on Wednesday morning. Those who obeyed found their possible escape route severely compromised after the vessel suddenly listed sharply to the port side, triggering total panic.

'Shouldn't we move?' Ferry evacuation under scrutiny

National shock at a ferry disaster that may have claimed the lives of hundreds of South Korean schoolchildren was mixed with fury Thursday at growing evidence that many passengers were denied a proper chance to escape the sinking vessel. Multiple survivor testimony highlighted the fact that passengers were repeatedly told to stay in their seats or cabins when the ferry first ran into trouble on Wednesday morning. Those who obeyed found their possible escape route severely compromised after the vessel suddenly listed sharply to the port side, triggering total panic.

US college entrance test, the SAT, gets a revamp

Getting into college in the United States will no longer hinge so much on a high school student's grasp of arcane vocabulary or obtuse mathematical formulas. Changes to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) unveiled Wednesday are intended to breathe new vigor into the 88-year-old college entrance exam at a time when some critics are challenging its value. "The changes to the SAT will distinguish it from any current admission exam," said the College Board, the New York-based non-profit that oversees the test.

Kidnapped Nigeria girls taken to Islamist stronghold

The Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram were taken to a stronghold of the Islamist group, parents said on Wednesday, as the military confirmed that 129 students had been abducted. Defence spokesman Chris Olukolade, who had earlier given the figure of those kidnapped in northeastern Borno state late Monday, later said all but eight had been released, but that was disputed by sources in the region and could not be independently confirmed. "The principal of the school confirmed that only eight of the girls are still missing," he said in a statement.

Out-of-pocket health costs rising; low-income homes face biggest pinch

TORONTO - Out-of-pocket health expenses rose sharply from 1997 to 2009, with low-income households taking the hardest hit, a new study from Statistics Canada reveals. Low-income households saw their health-care-related costs rise by 63 per cent over that period, compared to an increase of between 36 and 48 per cent for higher earners, the report says. In 2009, households with the lowest incomes spent about $1,000 on health care, compared to almost $3,000 for top earners.

Kidnapped Nigeria girls taken to Islamist stronghold

The Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram were taken to a stronghold of the Islamist group, parents said on Wednesday, as the security forces pressed on with a search to find the hostages. The defence ministry has confirmed that 129 girls were taken by gunmen in the northeastern state of Borno late Monday, just hours after a bomb ripped through a packed bus station on the outskirts of Abuja, killing 75 people, the deadliest attack ever in the capital.

Alabama's Auburn University scrubs classes over rampage threat

(Reuters) - Alabama's Auburn University said it found no immediate safety threat after canceling classes on Wednesday due to a message posted in a campus restroom that reportedly warned of a "rampage of biblical proportion." The university suspended normal operations for the day in light of "student and parent anxiety," according to a statement on Auburn's website. A school spokesman could not be reached to confirm the specifics of the threat. Local newspapers reported the message threatened a "rampage of biblical proportion."

Tobacco cos. make payments under pact to help states with smoking-related health care costs

RICHMOND, Va. - The nation's top cigarette makers said Tuesday they have made about $6 billion in annual payments as part of a longstanding settlement in which some companies are paying states for smoking-related health care costs.

Critics say Ottawa missing critical opportunity to bolster apprenticeships

OTTAWA - Stakeholders are disappointed that the Conservative government has declared its massive new federal-provincial infrastructure project open for business — with nary a mention of apprenticeships. Ottawa kicked off its $14-billion New Building Canada Fund late last month, part of the government's 10-year, $53-billion plan to build new infrastructure across Canada.

Clashes at mass eviction in Rome as crisis bites

Riot police dragged away some 350 squatter families from abandoned offices in Rome amid violent clashes on Wednesday -- the latest in a rising tide of forced evictions in Italy fuelled by the economic crisis. Several people were injured as police used truncheons to break through a large group of protesters outside the building, where squatters had barricaded themselves in and taken to the roof.
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