In brief | Nation & World, January 24, 2014


Both sides in Syrian conflict willing to meet separately with mediator

GENEVA — Syria’s government said stopping terrorism — not talking peace — was its priority, while the Western-backed opposition said “the road to negotiations” had begun, offering a glimmer of hope Thursday for a way to halt the violence that has killed more than 130,000 people.

The two sides did not meet face-to-face, buffered by a famously patient U.N. mediator who shuttled between representatives of Syrian President Bashar Assad and members of the opposition trying to overthrow him. And they did not seem ready to do so Friday as originally scheduled.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem questioned both the point of the talks and the legitimacy of the Syrian National Coalition, which is made up largely of exiles and lacks influence with an increasingly radicalized rebellion.

Infighting among rebels in the civil war has grown so deadly — nearly 1,400 killed in the past 20 days — that the head of al-Qaida called on Islamic militants to stand down, playing directly into Assad’s argument that only his government is preventing Syria’s further descent into chaos.

Another former student comes forward after allegations made in video

LOS ANGELES — A second woman has come forward to claim that a California educator sexually abused her, saying she decided to speak out after watching a YouTube video by a woman who made similar accusations.

Police in Riverside are investigating the allegations from both women, who say former middle school teacher and administrator Andrea Cardosa abused them while they were students in Riverside County.

The second woman’s attorney said Thursday he filed claims, a precursor to lawsuits, against two school districts where Cardosa worked.

The investigation and claims come days after a video was posted on YouTube showing the first woman confronting over the phone someone who identifies herself as Cardosa. Since then, Cardosa has resigned her job as an assistant principal and the video — which the woman sent to Cardosa’s employer — has been viewed nearly 1 million times.

A decade after landing on Mars, NASA’s rover still going strong

LOS ANGELES — A decade after landing on Mars, the rover Opportunity is still chugging along.

Sure, it has some wear and tear. One of its six wheels and two instruments stopped working long ago. It has an arthritic joint. Its flash memory occasionally suffers a senior moment.

But these problems are considered minor for a journey that was supposed to be just a three-month adventure.

“No one ever expected this — that after 10 years a Mars exploration rover would continue to operate and operate productively,” project manager John Callas said Thursday.

Mac still influences computing today, 30 years after its debut

NEW YORK — Look around. Many of the gadgets you see drew inspiration from the original Mac computer.

Computers at the time typically required people to type in commands. Once the Mac came out 30 years ago Friday, people could instead navigate with a graphical user interface. Available options were organized into menus. People clicked icons to run programs and dragged and dropped files to move them.

The Mac introduced real-world metaphors such as using a trash can to delete files. It brought us fonts and other tools once limited to professional printers. Most importantly, it made computing and publishing easy enough for everyday people to learn and use.

These concepts are so fundamental today that it’s hard to imagine a time when they existed only in research labs — primarily Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center in California. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and his team got much of its inspiration from PARC, which they visited while designing the Mac.

By wire sources