1. You may be sick of winter, but at least you're not this guy
2. Teen confession sites: What they are and what parents can do about them
By Susan Jennings/Digital First Media
"Twitter is like a big bathroom stall. Teenagers have always done this sort of thing. Human nature is not necessarily different just because the avenues have changed. There are so many avenues now for people to gossip." Thinkstock
Last week my husband stumbled on a Twitter account that shared "compliments" about local high school students. While many of the Tweets were harmless - "The juniors have the hottest guys" or "Kelly is the sweetest girl I know" - frequently, they veered into more explicit territory, commenting on students' sexual prowess and worse. Some posts were anonymous; others included Twitter handles or the students' full names.
Then we found another account, this one sharing anonymous "confessions" (many appear to be rumors) from area students. Most of the posts involve drug abuse and casual sex. Many include first and last names and/or the name of the school the "confession" originated from. Few are fit to be reprinted here.show more
3. CVS doesn't need tobacco: It has Obamacare
By Heidi Moore/Guardian
Pedestrians walk pass a CVS store in Chicago. M. Spencer Green/AP Photo
Does this seem like odd timing? Decades after tobacco lawsuits, settlements and other conflicts swept the country, one major retailer, CVS, has said it will no longer sell any tobacco products in its 7,600 stores. The move will cost CVS somewhere in the neighborhood of $2bn, which normally would be the kind of loss that would panic executives and worry anyone holding CVS stock.
It turns out that the timing however, is perfect. CVS doesn't need tobacco for its revenues because a bigger source of business is on the horizon: Obamacare. And Obamacare is invested in pressuring smokers to quit by forcing them to pay more for healthcare.
Obamacare is one of CVS's best chances to grow its business, according to Wall Street analysts. Tobacco - and smokers - are directly the opposite of that business opportunity. Obamacare doesn't like smokers; it is set up so that smokers may pay healthcare premiums as much as 50% higher than people who don't smoke.
That Obamacare connection is a pretty good incentive for CVS to stop selling tobacco and set its sights elsewhere. Both CVS and those Wall Street analysts believe that the company's strength is its direct link between consumers and the healthcare industry - something it calls the "retailization of healthcare." As CVS executives put it in a December presentation: "Consumers will play an increasingly active role in all healthcare decisions." This naturally is a great line at just the time when the healthcare industry and the government is desperate to reach those consumers.
That's why CVS's strategy is to get even closer to consumers and their healthcare decisions.show more
4. Why Russians are stealing squirrels from city parks
By The Associated Press
A squirrel eats, in Moscow's "Neskuchny Sad" park in Moscow, Russia. One by one, the bushy-tailed residents of Moscow's parks have been disappearing. Alexander Zemlianichenko/The Associated Press
One by one, the bushy-tailed residents of Moscow's parks have been disappearing. The problem: Russians have gone nuts for squirrels.
City official Alexei Gorelov says he has received multiple reports of squirrel poaching in local parks. In response, municipal authorities on Jan. 31 ordered bolstered security for all of Moscow's green areas.
Squirrels, which are of little use for their meat or their fur, are primarily poached to become pets. Russian websites offer the creatures for sale at 5,000 rubles - about $144 - each.
Gorelov, who heads the Ecological Control Department of eastern and northeastern parts of Moscow, said Wednesday that more police patrols would be dispatched to fend off the poachers, who can be fined up to 20,000 rubles, or about $573.
The results for public school students in third through eighth grade and in 11th grade were released Thursday in reading, writing and math.
According to the data, 71 percent of Vermont students are considered proficient in reading through the New England Common Assessment Program testing, and 67 percent are considered proficient in math.
Holcombe, speaking at a news conference at the Barre City Elementary and Middle School, notes there were gaps in achievement for both male students and students receiving free or reduced lunch.
Next year, Vermont will be switching to a new computer-based test called Smarter Balance Assessment system.