VUToday: Nuclear tunnel collapse in weekly roundup of VU news stories

University News and Communications publishes VUToday, a compilation of Vanderbilt mentions in the media, each weekday. Read a selection of Vanderbilt news stories for the week of May 8.

The Washington Post: Tunnel collapses at Hanford nuclear waste site in Washington state

Hundreds of workers at the Department of Energy’s Hanford nuclear site in Washington state had to take cover Tuesday morning after the collapse of a 20-foot-long portion of a tunnel used to store contaminated radioactive materials. An August 2015 report by Vanderbilt University’s civil and environmental engineering department said the PUREX facility and the two tunnels had “the potential for significant on-site consequences” and that “various pieces of dangerous debris and equipment containing or contaminated with dangerous/mixed waste” had been placed inside the tunnels.

USA Today: Comey firing adds to GOP’s load of political liabilities for midterms

Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey could have immediate political repercussions for his party. Veteran Republican campaign strategists see political peril ahead as additional revelations about potential ties between Trump officials and the Russian campaign to influence the U.S. election continue to surface. Thomas Schwartz, professor of history, is quoted.

The Christian Science Monitor: How to end the word gap? Cities invest big in baby talk.

Chatting with infants and toddlers doesn’t come naturally to many adults. The notion that low-income kids start school with far fewer words has communities trying to implement a simple idea to bridge the word gap: teach parents to talk with their babies. The disparity in early language exposure has been found to stifle students’ ability to learn to read and sets the stage for a major educational divergence that persists throughout their school careers. Jeannette Mancilla-Martinez, associate professor of literacy instruction, is quoted.

Bloomberg: Trump’s newest Wall Street watchdog sidesteps ethics scrutiny

The Trump administration used a highly unusual personnel move to skirt Senate confirmation and standard ethics requirements when it installed a financial services lawyer atop a powerful banking regulator. Keith Noreika’s transition from representing banks to overseeing them came courtesy of a quick two-step. He was made first deputy at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a designation that ensured he would ascend to the top job once it opened. Then the administration ousted Thomas Curry, an OCC head picked by Barack Obama who had imposed tough rules and record fines on lenders. David Lewis, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Political Science, is quoted.

Scientific American: When sex is a foreign language

Some features of autism, such as inflexibility, anxiety, sensory overload, difficulty communicating one’s own—and sensing others’—personal needs and limits, would seem to lend themselves to relationship disasters. But that thinking is based almost entirely on conjecture. Until recently, scientists have been slow to study how and why people with autism form satisfying relationships. Katherine Gotham, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is quoted.

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