In Brief | Nation & World, February 18, 2014


Venezuela president gives US diplomats 48 hours to leave country

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Nicolas Maduro’s government on Monday gave three U.S. Embassy officials 48 hours to leave the country, accusing the Obama administration of siding with student protesters who Venezuela accuses of inciting violence.

The announcement by Foreign Minister Elias Jaua came amid fears that renewed clashes could erupt Tuesday when both pro- and anti-government activists have announced plans for demonstrations in the capital.

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said that the senior U.S. consular officers were trying to infiltrate Venezuelan universities, the hotbed of the recent unrest, under the cover of doing visa outreach. Repeating charges by Maduro, who has expelled American diplomats twice before, Jaua said that the U.S. is conspiring with opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and student activists in an attempt to oust the socialist president.

The U.S. has denied the charges but is expressing concern about rising violence that led to three deaths last week during anti-government demonstrations, and about the government’s attempts to block peaceful protests.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday that Lopez’s arrest would have a “chilling effect” on Venezuelans’ right to free expression.

Saliva test may help predict which teen boys will develop depression

LONDON — A saliva test for teenage boys with mild symptoms of depression could help identify those who will later develop major depression, a new study says.

Researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in teenage boys and found that ones with high levels coupled with mild depression symptoms were up to 14 times more likely to suffer clinical depression later in life than those with low or normal cortisol levels.

The test was tried on teenage boys and girls, but found to be most effective with boys.

About one in six people suffer from clinical depression at some point in their lives, and most mental health disorders start before age 24. There is currently no biological test to spot depression.

“This is the emergence of a new way of looking at mental illness,” Joe Herbert of the University of Cambridge and one of the study authors said at a news conference on Monday. “You don’t have to rely simply on what the patient tells you, but what you can measure inside the patient,” he said.

Former dean chosen to lead Penn State in wake of Sandusky scandal

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Eric Barron, a former professor and dean at Penn State University and president of Florida State University, was chosen Monday to lead Pennsylvania’s largest university as it continues grappling with fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. He’ll bring with him the experience of managing a major state university known as much for its for storied athletic program as its academic mission, as well as the fallout from a sex-abuse scandal with ties to big-time college football.

Penn State trustees unanimously approved the selection at a special meeting in State College after a 15-month search process in which university officials had kept the new president’s identity secret, refusing to confirm whether Barron was even being considered until the meeting began.

Barron, who worked at Penn State for 20 years, including four as dean of its College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, will succeed President Rodney Erickson, who plans to retire when his contract expires in June. Barron is getting a five-year contract worth $1 million a year and will start in May, if not sooner.

Erickson, Penn State’s former provost and executive vice president, was named president in November 2011 after then-president Graham Spanier was forced out following child molestation accusations against Sandusky, a former assistant football coach. Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence after being convicted in 2012 of 45 counts for the sexual abuse of 10 boys. Spanier was later charged in an alleged cover-up.

Barron called the Sandusky scandal painful and saddening but focused on the changes it has brought.

By wire sources