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Briefs (left)

Northeastern Plans to Create
Social Science School

By Marcella Bombardieri

As part of its long-term ambition to become a nationally known research university, officials at Northeastern University are working on a sweeping plan to create a new School of Social Science, Urban Affairs, and Public Policy.

Proponents say the new school would attract higher-caliber students and faculty to a university better known for more industry-oriented offerings, such as engineering and health sciences. At the same time, they say, it would provide a major boost to Boston and the region by dramatically ramping up the university’s efforts to help tackle local social and economic problems.

The school, which would require raising tens of millions of dollars, would combine existing social science departments with eight new interdisciplinary centers, and would involve topics that would include ethics and international affairs.

OPEC Indicates It Will Leave Oil
Output Unchanged for Now

By Jad Mouawad

OPEC ministers said Tuesday that they would keep their oil production levels unchanged for the time being, stressing that supplies were secure despite tension over Iran’s nuclear program.

Although the decision had been widely anticipated, it still helped ease some of the concern on oil markets, where prices remained short of record levels. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for March delivery declined 43 cents, to $67.92 a barrel, after touching an intraday low of $67.35.

“The market is actually very, very well supplied,” Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, said after the meeting here. “Inventories are adequate, cover days are great,” he said, referring to the number of days that oil supplies will meet daily demand. “So, what else do you want from OPEC? We have come in and replaced any losses in supplies from anywhere.”

OPEC is now producing around 30 million barrels of oil a day, its highest output in more than a quarter-century. Excluding Iraq, the group’s formal quota will remain at 28 million barrels a day.

Panel Looks at Failure to Aid
New Orleans’ Infirm

By Eric Lipton

Government complacency, poor planning and dereliction of duty during Hurricane Katrina contributed to the deaths of dozens of the frail and sick in New Orleans, and to the suffering of many others who were stranded in area hospitals and nursing homes unable to care for them, Senate investigators said Tuesday.

In the second day of Senate hearings on the hurricane response, the focus was on what investigators called perhaps the most outrageous chapter of the storm: The mistreatment of nursing home and hospital patients during the disaster.

“How could such a thing happen?” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked the officials from the state of Louisiana, the city of New Orleans and the state association of nursing homes who attended the hearings. “Why were so many left behind?”

The witnesses acknowledged a long list of failures that meant there was no coordinated or tested plan in place to evacuate the frail, sick or poor, though studies had warned for more than a decade that an estimated 100,000 New Orleans residents without transportation would need such help in a major hurricane.