Fed Chairman cautions more steps need to be taken to make sure recovery lasts: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said today the stimulus package being crafted by President-elect Barack Obama and Congress could provide a “significant boost” to the sinking economy. But he warned that such a recovery wouldn’t last unless other steps are taken to stabilize the shaky financial system. Although Bernanke has previously endorsed the notion for a fresh round of government stimulus to lift the country out of a recession, it marked the first time the Fed chief has referenced the roughly $800 billion recovery plan now being worked on by Obama, who takes office next week. Obama envisions a blend of tax cuts and increased government spending, including on big public works projects, to make up the stimulus plan. Bernanke, who didn’t weigh in on the details of the evolving package, made clear that such a recovery plan was needed as part of a broader, multi-pronged government response to combat the worst financial crisis to hit the United States and the global economy since the 1930s.
Board drops creationism, intelligent design ban, but won’t promote religion: Supporters of teaching alternatives to evolution in Louisiana public school science classes convinced a state education panel today to forego a specific ban on the teaching of scientific creationism and intelligent design, two theories that have already been struck down by federal courts. But the science guidelines adopted by a panel of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education still include language that bans promotion of any religious doctrine and requiring that information presented by teachers be “scientifically sound and supported by empirical evidence.” Today’s 10-0 vote on the guidelines follows last year’s passage of legislation that backers said will encourage “critical thinking” about scientific topics, including evolution, human cloning and global warming. The law maintains a requirement that teachers in Louisiana public schools use state-approved science textbooks, but allows local teachers and school districts to then use supplemental material on the subject.
Lounge in paradise: Position: Island caretaker. Duties: Lazing around Australia’s Great Barrier Reef for six months. Salary: 150,000 Australian dollars ($100,000). Unemployed, take heart—the aforementioned job ad is for real. Billing it the “Best Job in the World,” the tourism department in Australia’s Queensland state today said it was seeking one lucky person to spend half a year relaxing on Hamilton Island, part of the country’s Whitsunday Islands, while promoting the island on a blog. The move is part of a $1.7 million campaign to boost tourism in the state. In exchange for the plush salary, free accommodation in an oceanfront villa and airfare from the winner’s home country, the “employee” will be required to stroll the island’s white sand beaches, snorkel, maybe take a dip in the pool—and post photos and videos of his or her experiences on a weekly blog. “It’ll be huge,” Tourism Whitsundays chief executive Peter O’Reilly said, adding he expected thousands will apply. Applications are open until Feb. 22 and 11 finalists will be flown to Hamilton Island in May for the final selection process. The job begins on July 1. For information, click here.