News roundup: Jindal signs private school tuition tax break … B.R. firm lands contract to build $32.5 million student union at SLU … Trilingual vacuum robot utters witty dialect
On the books: Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed into law a bill to create a new tax break program providing rebates for donations to voucher programs that allow students to attend private schools. Jindal says it will give children in failing public schools more opportunities to get an improved education. He signed the measure Monday. The tax break begins with the 2013-14 school year. The bill provides a nearly dollar-for-dollar state tax rebate to individuals and businesses donating money to nonprofit organizations that give the private school scholarships to students. Opponents say the tax break program will damage public education in the state by siphoning off children to private schools and taking dollars away from public schools.
Big time: Lincoln Builders of Baton Rouge Inc. has been selected by Southeastern Louisiana University—through its affiliate, University Facilities Inc.—as the contractor on the $32.5 million expansion and renovation of the SLU Student Union building on the Hammond campus. The three-phase construction project will include a new 87,000-square-foot addition to house dining operations on three floors, as well as renovation of the existing 89,000-square-foot War Memorial Student Union, originally built in 1964, and the renovation of the Student Union Annex, which was built in 1981. Holly & Smith Architects of Hammond is the design firm on the project. The expected completion date is October 2014.
'Cool and feeling good': It looks just like iRobot's Roomba vacuuming machine, except the new circular roaming vacuum cleaner from Sharp Corp. is trilingual, and even knows a hip, humorous dialect. Cocorobo, which can also send photos taken from your home to your cell phone, says 36 phrases, including "Long time no see" and "Hello," in Japanese, English and Chinese. The Japanese electronics maker says the robot also speaks the Kansai dialect of southwestern Japan widely viewed as more comical and witty than standard Japanese. The machine answers, "So good," when asked, "How's it going?" In the Kansai dialect, it replies the equivalent of, "I'm cool and feeling good." Sharp is based in Osaka, where the Kansai dialect is spoken. The dinner plate-sized robot sells for about 130,000 yen, or about $1,600. Check out a video of it in action here.
Today's poll question: Will you start donating, or increase your existing donation, to school voucher programs in light of the new tax break?
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