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News Notes – October 21

Star witness says he’ll testify in Chuck Turner corruption case
By Jonathan Saltzman and Martin Finucane, Globe Staff – October 21, 2010 08:57 AM

The businessman who is a star government witness in the corruption trial of Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner said today he would testify in the case, ending uncertainty about whether jurors would hear testimony crucial to the prosecution.

Ronald Wilburn, walking into US District Court in Boston, was asked if he would testify by a phalanx of reporters who gathered around him.

“Yes, sir,” he said, adding cryptically, “A lot of unhappy people.”

Wilburn allegedly gave Turner a $1,000 bribe. Turner has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

Turner, 70, is on trial on charges of attempted extortion and three counts of making false statements to federal agents. The extortion charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years; each false statement charge carries a maximum of five years.

Wilburn agreed to cooperate with the FBI but had threatened not to testify, criticizing how the government treated him in the undercover investigation and saying he was upset that authorities arrested only two individuals, both of them black politicians.

Beal Cos. slices size of Mission Hill plan
By Thomas Grillo/Boston Herald – October 21, 2010

Under pressure from Mission Hill residents and City Hall, a Boston developer has dramatically scaled down a proposed medical office building near Brigham Circle.

The Beal Cos. has filed plans with the Boston Redevelopment Authority to renovate the former Immune Disease Institute at 800 Huntington Ave., add one story to the two-level concrete building and beef up parking above and below ground.

In 2008, Beal proposed demolishing the facility, which many consider an eyesore, and replacing it with a six-story, 196,000-square-foot building with office and lab space, a ground-floor restaurant with sidewalk seating, a community room and an art gallery.

But the plan was met with strong opposition. At the time, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the new building would overshadow the neighborhood and extend the nearby Longwood Medical Area.

Grants increase – Recent jump in funding to cause reform
By Kaitlin Robidoux, Huntington News Correspondent – 10/21/10

Northeastern received $81.9 million in research grants this year, a $14.7 million jump from the last academic year. Research on campus, stressed President Joseph Aoun in his State of the University Address, is an important factor in the university’s growth.

“Northeastern research has been a success story,” said Michael Armini, senior vice president of external affairs. “Four years ago, government backed funding for research [at Northeastern] was at around $44 million. … Today, that number has almost doubled to $82 million.”

This has been in conjunction with President Aoun’s push for research and plans for such programs to continue to grow.

“To expand the dramatic success of our research enterprise, we will create a pipeline of new interdisciplinary research programs that deepen our work in our signature research areas, and encourage more interdisciplinary faculty collaborations,” he said in a letter on the Northeastern website.

Professors who conduct research that focuses on a specific topic, like cancer-fighting drugs, receive the largest grants.

Because of the recent increase in grants given to the university, the allocation and moderation of the grant money being spent is set to change, as dictated by the Faculty Senate.

Students give back for NU Service Day
by Todd Feathers, Huntington News Correspondent – 10/21/10

Students, staff, and alumni volunteered in Roxbury, Mission Hill and other areas surrounding Northeastern last weekend as part of the university’s effort to give back to the community for NU Service Day.

“We have a lot of people that live in Mission Hill, and it’s very important for us to be seen out in the community helping people out,” said Dan Murdzia, president of Northeastern’s chapter of Kappa Sigma fraternity.

Members of Kappa Sigma helped pick up trash and plant flowers in Mission Hill. Murdzia said the Northeastern service days provide a great opportunity for members of his fraternity to fulfill their community service requirements.

Students and community organizers said the day was well-organized and successful.

The Center of Community Service contacted community organizers to ask if they would like to participate, and students were able to register online or by contacting the university’s Center of Community Service. Several university organizations, including Jumpstart Northeastern and the Black Engineering Student Society, also helped arrange work for volunteers.

Cancer trials suspended for new patients – Beth Israel Deaconess cites research data lapse
By Liz Kowalczyk – Globe Staff / October 21, 2010

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center temporarily closed all its cancer trials to new patients last week, after audits found that several researchers had not properly submitted patient data to the committee that oversees oncology research and to trial sponsors.

“Some of our clinical trials were not running with the high standards that we expect,’’ Randy Mason, vice president of research operations, wrote in an e-mail to hospital executives and physician leaders last week.

He described the lapses as involving documentation and reporting compliance and said the hospital has not found any “issues of patient harm.’’

Care for patients already enrolled in the hospital’s 285 oncology trials is continuing without disruption, he said. Between 100 and 125 of those trials had been accepting new patients, executives said.

MIT brainiacs put their faith in the future – Beauty in the Beast
By Sarah Wright/Boston Herald – October 21, 2010

The brainiacs at the MIT Media Lab . . . the ones who helped bring you ‘‘Guitar Hero,’’ holograms on credit cards, and the electronic ink used in Amazon’s Kindle . . . are at it again.

Now hot in lab-coat circles are new “bio-devices’’ that could change lives and lifestyles, such as a “Beast” chair that flexes where you need it to, a “Living Wall” that can talk to electronic devices, and a robotic ankle.

‘‘In a hundred years,’’ said Lab researcher Neri Oxman, ‘‘all fabrication will be bio-inspired.

“In the year 3,000, we’ll design with living matter. Buildings may have skins. Our clothes could contain our DNA.’’

The Beast is the chaise lounge of the future. Designed to provide for multiple seating positions, it has a 3-D printed surface that responds to skin pressure measurements. New multijet matrix technology deposits materials in different areas of the chair so it gives where flexibility is needed, and stays stiff where support is required.

Man stabbed outside MIT student center
By John M. Guilfoil – Globe Staff / October 21, 2010

An argument between two restaurant workers inside the Massachusetts Institute of Technology student center turned violent yesterday afternoon, when one man stabbed the other in the stomach, Cambridge police said.

Police swarmed the area at about 4:30 after the employee of Anna’s Taqueria was stabbed.

The two men had been arguing inside the restaurant, located inside the student center. The argument spilled outside onto Massachusetts Avenue, where the victim was stabbed, said Daniel Rivello, a spokesman for Cambridge police.

Students sport purple attire to support gay community
By Alex Nawar/BU Daily Free Press – October 21, 2010

Many Boston University students showed off their purple attire on Wednesday in order to show support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The “Spirit Day” was created in response to the deaths of six gay students who committed suicide in the past few months.

The movement to wear purple was started by Brittany McMillan, a Canadian student, earlier this month in memory of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after allegedly being targeted for his sexuality.

McMillan told students to wear purple because it symbolizes Spirit on the rainbow LGBT flag.

“Spirit Day” spread quickly to the United States and now has more than 1.6 million attendees on Facebook.

Fencing off this idea
Posted by Eric Wilbur, Staff October 21, 2010

In the three weeks since they played their final game of the 2010 season, the Red Sox have bought a soccer team and announced that they hope to drastically alter the Fenway Park playing dimensions, a pair of suspect moves for a club rapidly attracting the dubious eyes of New England. Free agency ought to be a hoot.

First, the soccer thing. Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino insists that NESV’s purchase of Liverpool will have no financial ramifications on the product the Red Sox put on the field, and we’ll have to take him for his word on that. After all, Boston only uses the luxury tax as an excuse to not spend.

But sorry, not buying this bullpen nonsense.

If the Fenway bullpens aren’t up to Major league Baseball’s “recommended” code, why not just push them back a few feet instead of extending them out into right field? Of course, the Sox may lose a row or two of bleacher seats that way instead of the inevitability of adding them should the Boston Landmark Commission approve the team’s request. That’s what this is all about in the end anyway, right? I’m sure there’s some well-tailored excuse as to why they can’t expand the other way, but shouldn’t that be the immediate follow-up?

It’s not as if the Red Sox owners didn’t know what they were getting into when they purchased Fenway, but where else can you squeeze nickels and dimes out of it? I only wish MLB had a recommended code for ballpark seats for I’m sure the Red Sox would address the fact that their seats are fit for people only of Danny DeVito’s stature and expand those somehow.

Andover teen follows brother’s lead and will compete in Charles Regatta
By Christopher Smith [email protected] – October 21, 2010

Mike Kapp had never been to a rowing competition before last year.

He went to watch his brother, Christoph, compete with the Northeastern University rowing team in the Head Of The Charles Regatta last October and was struck by the crowds, the number of competitors and the sheer magnitude of the event.

“It was just cool watching his team whiz by in this big race,” Mike said. “In a way, I just kind of saw how many people were there and just kind of got excited about the idea of being in this really big race. It really inspired me to get into rowing and be just like him.”

A year later, guess who will be rowing on the Charles River this weekend?

Mike Kapp.
From Universal Hub: Northeastern Police investigating who changed student’s birthday on his Facebook page

Boston’s other skyline

1797 – In Boston Harbor, the 44-gun United States Navy frigate USS Constitution is launched.  More anniversaries.


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