Paw Print Rewind #003: April 15, 2015

Editor’s Note: This is the Paw Print Rewind, a daily recap of the day’s headlines.

Obama, Abadi to discuss Islamic State in White House meeting

On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama warned Iran that its fighters must respect Iraq’s sovereignty and report to Baghdad in the region-wide battle against Islamic State militants.

Iran-backed Shi’ite militias have played a major role in battling the Sunni group, an al Qaeda offshoot that emerged from the chaos in Iraq and Syria.

Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi discussed the issue at length in their Oval Office meeting.

“Once Prime Minister Abadi took power, from that point on, any foreign assistance that is helping to defeat ISIL has to go through the Iraqi government. That’s how you respect Iraqi sovereignty.

“It needs to be help that is not simply coordinated with the Iraqi government, but ultimately is answerable to the Iraqi government and is funneled through the chain of command.”

-Barack Obama, US President

Abadi is on his first trip to Washington since becoming prime minister last September. His meeting with Obama supposedly conveys a U.S. stamp of approval for a leader who has sought more inclusion than his predecessor in governing Iraq.

“I am aware that regional countries have their own interests and I respect these interests, but I also welcome any assistance that they would provide, and I would like to thank them.

“However, we do not accept any intervention in Iraq or any transgression on Iraqi sovereignty. This is a war that is fought with Iraqi blood with help from the coalition forces and regional countries.”

-Haidar al-Abadi, Iraq foreign minister, through a translator

Study: Academics rate women job applicants higher than identical men

When hundreds of U.S. college faculty members rated junior scientists based on scholarly record, job interview performance and other information with an eye toward which should be hired, they preferred women over identically qualified men two-to-one.

The “candidates” were invented to see which factors affect potential hires’ evaluation, part of an effort to explain women’s underrepresentation in academic science.

“We were shocked.”

-Wendy Williams, Cornell University psychologist and co-author

Women have always been scarce in academic science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), now making up one-fourth of full professorships in science, engineering and health, according to the National Science Foundation.

That got attributed to gender bias, prejudice against women who take maternity leave and other discrimination.

Recently, however, women with advanced STEM degrees have had a better chance of getting university jobs. For example, out of 96 math hires from 1995 through 2003, 20 percent of applicants were women, but 32 percent of those offered jobs were female.

Some scholars have said this  female advantage was because women who overcome the hurdles to a STEM Ph.D. are generally stronger candidates than male counterparts.

To test that, Williams and co-author Stephen Ceci ran five related experiments. They sent descriptions of made-up job candidates in biology and psychology, as well as economics and engineering to 873 faculty members at 371 colleges.

The experiments differed in how many candidates the participants evaluated.

Overall, even though their qualifications and characteristics were identical, women ranked first by 67 percent of participants, the authors report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Marco Rubio joins 2016 presidential race

marco rubio

On Monday, Senator Marco Rubio declared that it was time for his generation to lead the country, portraying himself as the youthful future of the Republican Party.

Formally declaring his intent to run for president, Rubio entered a content so far dominated by two political dynasties (the Bushes and the Clintons).

“The time has come for our generation to lead our way towards a new American century.

“Before us now is the opportunity to author the greatest chapter yet in the amazing story of America. But we can’t do that by going back to the leaders and ideas of the past.

“Just yesterday (Sunday), a leader from yesterday (Hillary Clinton) began a campaign for president by promising to take us back to yesterday. Yesterday is over, and we are never going back.

“In many countries, the highest office in the land is reserved for the rich and powerful. But I live in an exceptional country where even the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege.”

-Marco Rubio, in a speech at Miami’s Freedom Tower

Ex-Blackwater guards sentenced in 2007 killings of Iraqi civilians

blackwater

Four former Blackwater security contractors, who were among several private American security guards that fired into Baghdad’s Nisour Square on September 16th, 2007, and got convicted of killing 14 unarmed Iraqis last October in what is considered a wartime atrocity by prosecutors received their sentences on Monday.

“I know for a fact that I will be exonerated, in this life and the next.”

-Paul Slough

“I am very sorry for the loss of life. But I cannot say in all honesty to the court that I believe I did anything wrong.”

-Dustin Heard

“The verdict is wrong. You know I am innocent.”

-Nicholas Slatten

Judge Royce Lamberth, strongly disagreed, sentencing Slatten to life in prison and handing 30-year sentences to the three others. Jeremy Ridgeway, a fifth former guard, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and testified against his former colleagues. He hasn’t been sentenced but testified that he hoped to avoid any prison time.

“Blackwater had power like Saddam Hussein. The power comes from the United States. Today we see who will win. The law? Or Blackwater?”

-Mohammed Hafedh Abdulrazzaq Kinani, whose nine-year-old son was killed in Nisour Square

Budget deficit rises to $53 billion in March

The United States ended the month of March with a $53 billion budget deficit, which is up 43 percent from the same period last year, according to the Treasury Department.

The current fiscal year-to-date deficit stood at $439 billion at the end of last month.

Differences in the monthly calendar affected March’s budget results. If adjusted for timing-related transactions, the budget deficit would have been $89 billion.

Receipts last month totaled $234 billion, up eight percent from a year ago, while outlays were $287 billion, up 14 percent from a year ago, according to the Treasury.

Russia confirms Iran oil-for-goods swap

On Monday, Russian officials said the country was sending grain, equipment and construction materials to Iran in an oil-for-assets barter deal, the first step in securing a foothold in a new market since the West imposed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin confirmed the deal got implemented.

The announcement and an accompanying one that Russia was ready to supply an advanced S-300 anti-missile system to Tehran, prompting alarm in Washington, which joined other Western countries and the United Nations in imposing sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

Politically sensitive negotiations are now in their last stages on a deal to end a decades-old dispute between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany on the nuclear program, which the West suspects has military aims and Tehran says is peaceful.

Russia has acted quickly to cement ties with Iran after an interim deal got reached this month on curbing the Islamic republic’s nuclear program in exchange for removing economic sanctions. Talks will resume on April 21 with the aim of reaching a final accord by the end of June.

A precise mechanism and timetable for lifting the sanctions hasn’t been worked out.

“We are supplying our equipment, our works, we will complete work on power plant construction, a part of a railroad, and so on.”

-Sergei Ryabkov, Russia deputy foreign minister

Iran: nuclear deal depends on lifting of sanctions

On Wednesday, Iran said that it would only accept a deal over its contested nuclear program if world powers simultaneously lifted all sanctions imposed on it.

“If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement.

“The end of these negotiations and a signed deal must include a declaration of cancelling the oppressive sanctions on the great nation of Iran.”

-Hassan Rouhani, Iran President

Discussions will resume in the Iran talks on April 21.

JPMorgan profit rises as fixed-income trading rebounds

JPMorgan Chase, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, reported better-than-expected quarterly profit after a decision by the Swiss central bank to remove a cap on the franc shocked markets and spurred trading in currencies and bonds.

JPMorgan’s revenue from trading fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC) by five percent to $4.07 billion in the first quarter.

JPMorgan’s investment bank is the world’s biggest by revenue, according to research firm Coalition. Revenue from the business rose 8.4 percent to $9.58 billion in the quarter.

The unit has been under pressure to cut costs as clients have reduced trading since the financial crisis and regulators have demanded that big banks take fewer risks, hold more capital and improve controls.

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