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courtesy Observer archives

Recent studies show that a majority of students infringe on academic integrity standards.

Sarah Groft, National News Reporter

Cleveland firefighters work dangerous amounts of overtime

Two Cleveland firefighters were recently found to have worked thousands of extra hours over the past five years. The longest stretch was 120 hours in a row. Fellow firefighters paid these two individuals to cover their shifts, putting their overworked co-workers, and others, in danger of injury from their lack of sleep.

This finding prompted the Firefighters Union, along with city administrators, to create a policy about the maximum number of hours that can be traded between co-workers.

This policy will also prevent any individual firefighter to be on the clock for over 48 hours. However, the new policy does not apply to overtime hours. This means that the firefighters could still be working for more than 36 hours with no breaks.

Frank Szabo, the Firefighters Union’s president, told The Plain Dealer, “The union leaders acknowledged the problem and collaborated with city officials to craft a policy that aligns with industry accepted standards for firefighter and public safety.”

The five men who paid to give away their shifts may be prosecuted for their dangerous behavior. Timothy Debarr, one of the five, already pled guilty to the charges and was fined and given a short jail sentence. Men like Debarr would pay up to $250 to trade a shift. Frequently, they would use the time to work another job, while still collecting money and benefits from the city of Cleveland.

Before this new policy, the city allowed firefighters to trade 24-hour shifts, as long as they repaid the time within a year. When a city audit was done, it was found that some firefighters owed months, or even years, of service.

The two men who worked thousands of extra hours were Ryan Leighty and Timothy Winans. In addition to overtime hours, Winans accepted 5012 of his co-workers hours, while Leighty accepted 4452 extra hours.

At least 20 other firefighters were also found to have worked between 1000 and 3000 extra hours. Andrew Kovacic, another firefighter, worked 19 out of 21 days at one stretch of time.

Studies have shown that people who get a small amount of sleep, or have very interrupted sleep, not only have impaired cognitive function, but are also at a higher risk for medical problems like obesity, heart disease, and depression.

So far, the new policy seems to be having a positive effect; there have not been any serious mistakes since the policy’s institution.

 

Tornados strike NYC

Saturday, Sept. 8 brought panic to New York City as two tornados touched down, scattering debris and disabling power in many buildings. The first tornado touched ground in the Breezy Point section of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens.

The tornado was not a complete surprise to the area, though. At approximately 10:40 a.m., the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for that afternoon. The surprise came when the tornado touched down only half an hour after the announcement.

The tornado left behind minimal damage to some of the homes on the sea, like shattered windows and broken fences. The Breezy Point Surf Club also had some damage in the form of ripped-off roofs, strewn chairs, and thrown dumpsters.

The second tornado hit in the Canarsie neighborhood of Brooklyn around 11:30 a.m., but was short-lived and caused no injuries.

Both of these tornados were part of a streak of storms that hit the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The storms have killed four people.

 

Cheating plagues multiple schools

Over the past year or so, many of the United States’ most competitive schools have been found to have cheating dilemmas. Three of these schools are Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, the Air Force Academy, and Harvard University.

Recent studies show that a majority of students infringe on academic integrity standards, including high achievers. According to the New York Times, experts say that the reason for the recent increase in cheating is that “cheating has become easier and more widely tolerated, and both schools and parents have failed to give students strong, repetitive messages about what is allowed and what is prohibited.”

The Internet also is another major factor. A study done at Duquesne University discovered that the more resources a student is given for an assignment, the more likely they are to plagiarize.

David Wasieleski, one of the authors of the study and an associate professor of management at Duquesne, said that a reason for this outcome is that students just do not seem to understand or comprehend what plagiarism and cheating are.

Howard Gardner, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said that among most prestigious institutions, students desire “to be famous and successful. We think our colleagues are cutting corners, we will be damned if we will lose out to them, and some day, when we have made it, we will be role models. But until then, give us a pass.”

Other studies have shown that if academic institutions make an effort to reinforce and restate their standards, cheating seems to decrease. However, most institutions fail to set boundaries or enforce repercussions for such actions.

“Few schools place any meaningful emphasis on integrity, academic or otherwise, and colleges are even more indifferent than high schools,” Michael Josephson, president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, told the New York Times.

Surveys of high schools and colleges have shown that many students not only do not know what constitutes cheating, but those that do know what it is think that it is a minor offense, if it can be considered one at all.

 

Clinton declares U.S. will relax sanctions against Russia

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the United States Secretary of State, said on Saturday that the United States would be lifting the Jackson-Vanik law, which has enforced sanctions against Russia since the Cold War. She did not mention the human rights legislation in Congress that is stopping the repeal.

According to the New York Times, Clinton said that the United States should begin to create normal trade relations with Russia in order to obtain the benefits of the World Trade Union, such as lower tariffs on American products.

The problem with this plan comes from a piece of human right legislation called the Magnitsky bill. The Magnitsky bill would penalize Russian officials that have been accused of abusing human rights, denying them both visas and their assets.

Therefore, reaching an agreement about lifting the Jackson-Vanik law, which is waived every year and has no real effect, may not occur before the election in November. The law discusses trade barriers that were enacted to chastise the Soviet Union for its restrictions on Jewish immigrants.

The Magnitsky bill was named after a lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison in 2009 after prosecution due to charges that could have been implemented to cover up official corruption.

According to the New York Times, Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, said that he would normalize trade with Russia, but only when the Magnitsky bill is passed.

President Barack Obama, on the other hand, opposes the bill completely, although he does support addressing human rights abuse in Russia. Russian president Vladimir Putin, along with other Russian officials, strongly opposes the Magnitsky bill, and has promised consequences if it is enacted.