Monday PM January 18th, 2010
by: Ed Mayberry, January 18, 2010 4:01:27 pm
Members of Continental Airlines OnePass frequent flyer program are eligible to donate miles to two major charitable organizations involved in the Haitian relief effort. OnePass miles can be donated to the American Red Cross and AmeriCares on Continental’s Web site. Continental is also waiving change fees and additional fare collections for certain tickets to the Dominican Republic, next to Haiti. Continental does not fly to Haiti, but serves three cities in the Dominican Republic—Santo Domingo, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Flights to the Dominican Republic have been carrying relief workers since last Friday.
Cold weather damage to some crops in south Texas has emerged nearly two weeks after freezing conditions rolled into the state. Julian Sauls with the Texas Agrilife Extension Service in Weslaco says citrus-wise, the area “dodged a pretty good bullet or two or three” following cold weather that moved in January 6th. J&D Produce owner James Bassetti in Edinburg says the chilly weather ruined his beets, Swiss chard, dill weed, lettuces and other leafy greens, with overall damage at $250,000. Sugarcane can lose the ability to produce sugar when it's exposed to the cold. Steve Bearden with Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers says growers are now focused on harvesting to salvage whatever they can before the plants rot.
A new survey says chief executives of colleges and universities are feeling the effects of the recession in their paychecks. The survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education suggests a string of large annual pay increases for school presidents is coming to a halt. The survey showed compensation packages of chief executives at public schools leveling off in 2008-2009, rising a relatively modest 2.3 per cent. Over the previous six years, annual pay increases of ten per cent or more had become the norm. Cuts in state funding and tuition increases, along with fears of a backlash over perceived high salaries are trumping--at least for now--the argument that public schools need to pay top dollar for top talent.
Fifteen Texas cities and one county have been selected to receive $6 million in federal stimulus grants for traffic signal projects. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs says the money will be used to synchronize traffic lights and to install light emitting diodes in traffic signals. The clusters of tiny red, yellow and green LEDs can reduce electricity use by almost 85 per cent. Beaumont is receiving $251,590 in funding, and Missouri City is receiving $166,880. Synchronized traffic lights on well-travelled roads can lead to better traffic flow, helping reduce emissions from cars idling too long at stop lights.
A Dallas company has won a $12 million contract to install a high-definition surveillance system at Texas residential facilities for the developmentally disabled. The agreement with Knight Security Systems involves 12 state schools. The cameras were mandated in a $48 million bill signed in 2009 by Governor Rick Perry to improve safety and conditions at state schools for the disabled. Cameras were installed last year at the Corpus Christi facility, where allegations of a “fight club” forcing residents to battle each other, for the staff's amusement, led to criminal charges. Cecilia Fedorov with the Department of Aging and Disability Services says the cameras will be added security for residents and staff. Knight will install cameras at campuses in Abilene, Austin, Brenham, Denton, El Paso, Lubbock, Lufkin, Mexia, Richmond, Harlingen, San Angelo and San Antonio.
There are new claims that China may be hacking into more Google e-mail accounts. The Foreign Correspondents Club of China has e-mailed members warning that reporters in at least two news bureaus in Beijing claim their Gmail accounts had been invaded. They said their e-mails had been forwarded to unfamiliar accounts. One of the accounts involved belongs to an Associated Press reporter. An AP editor in New York says an investigation has been launched to determine if any vital information was compromised. The claims follow similar attacks against the e-mail accounts of human rights activists. That incident prompted Google to consider pulling out of the country.