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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios
U.S. graduate business schools — once magnets for American and international students seeking a certain route to a high income — are in an existential crisis. They are losing droves of students who are balking at sky-high tuition and, in the case of international applicants, turned off by President Trump's politics.
Why it matters: The once-venerated MBA is going the way of the diminished law degree, pushed aside by tech education. Graduates of the top 25 or so MBA schools still command the elite Wall Street and corporate jobs they always did, but the hundreds of others are scrambling, and some schools are shutting down their programs. Survivors are often offering new touchy-feely degrees like "master of social innovation."
The background: Most top-ranked U.S. business schools are doing just fine. Sixteen of the top 25 reported a jump in MBA program applications for the 2016-2017 academic year, and four schools — Yale, Columbia, Carnegie Melon, and the University of Chicago — saw double-digit leaps, per Poets & Quants, a website that covers graduate business education.
The problem: In the more than 350 programs that didn't make the top ranks, rising tuition costs and smaller returns in the form of employment and income have forced a rethink of the traditional MBA degree.
A big problem is declining international interest: The enrollment at some mid-tier MBA programs is more than half international students. But 51% of B schools report a decline in international enrollment in fall 2016, a 13% jump from 2015, according to the MBA Career Services survey.
This is across the board: International enrollment at some top 25 schools is down, per Poets & Quants. For example, 32% of Georgetown's B school applicant pool was international in the 2016-2017 academic year, compared with 43% the year before. The trend is even more pronounced in the lower-ranked schools.
Trump administration's immigration policies are one reason. According to a GMAC survey conducted in February, 67% of prospective international MBAers would rethink their eventual study destination if they thought they'd be unable to obtain a work visa following the completion of their degree.
Graduate education is a global market: "The return on investment calculation for the international student is even more amplified for many of them, coming from markets that are more price sensitive," Scott DeRue, dean of the business school at the University of Michigan, tells Axios. "And then you layer onto that some of the uncertainties around the job market, the visa issues, and things of that sort that are well covered in the media, and I think that adds to the anxieties that international students will and could have."
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Jeff Roberson / AP
Facebook will tell users whether they followed pages set up by Russian operatives as part of a broad campaign to interfere in the 2016 election. The company, along with Twitter and Google, have faced pressure from lawmakers to be more transparent about how far the Russian ads, pages and propaganda spread on their platforms and who was exposed to it.
The details: The social network said Wednesday that it will create a page on its support website that will tell a user which pages and accounts they followed on Facebook and Instagram that have been linked to a Russian troll farm involved in the election campaign. Users will also be able to see when they followed the account.
What they're not doing: Telling users whether they were exposed to content from the pages in their Newsfeed, even if they didn't follow them. Users may have seen content that spread organically or as a result of a paid ad. Facebook has argued that it's especially difficult to be able to show that information.
ICE agents at a home in Atlanta, during a targeted enforcement operation. Photo: ICE via AP
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said at a tech industry conference last week they are seeking algorithms that can "conduct ongoing social media surveillance" of visa holders that are considered high risk, according to ProPublica.
Why it matters: The announcement of the program, later named "Visa Lifecycle Vetting," spurred backlash from civil liberty groups and immigrants, saying it would be discrimination against Muslim visa holders. Acting deputy association director for information management at ICE Homeland Security Investigations, Alysa Erichs, said the goal is to have "automated notifications about any visa holders' social media activity that could 'ping us as a potential alert.'"
Kevin Moloney / Fortune Brainstorm Tech
Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire investor who funded ex-wrestler Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker, is seeking to pause the sales process of the now-defunct website, arguing that he was unfairly excluded from making a bid, according to a bankruptcy court filing obtained by BuzzFeed.
Why it matters: The buyer of Gawker.com (the rest of Gawker Media's properties were acquired by Univision last year) will be able to do with its contents as they please, including deleting specific articles. There are still ongoing legal actions over a few articles in the archive. Though Thiel never admitted as much, it was long rumored that his decision to help Hogan was fueled by unflattering coverage of him and his business activities over the years, including a 2007 story about the fact that he is gay.
A man exits the Uber offices in Austin, Texas. Photo: Eric Gay / AP
Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut are planning investigations into Uber's recently announced 2016 breach that left 57 million customers' and drivers' data vulnerable to criminals, and the FTC might launch a probe as well, according to Recode.
Why it matters: Most states (48) have some form of a law requiring companies to reveal data breaches to consumers, but Uber did not immediately disclose the details to consumers and reportedly tried to cover up the hack.
The FTC may also launch a probe into Uber, Recode reports, citing two sources who say Uber has already briefed the agency. The FTC said it was looking into the matter.
Bottom line: The news is not good for Uber on a global scale. It could face penalties and fines in addition to paying the steep legal price associated with suits after a year filled with other headaches related to security, privacy, and its culture.
The Trump Soho hotel. Photo: Seth Wenig / AP
The Trump Organization has made a deal allowing it to walk away from the Trump SoHo hotel by the end of the month, according to the New York Times.
Why it matters: Per the Times, the hotel has "struggled to attract guests" and had to close its main restaurant in April due to what the restaurant's lawyer called a "decline in business since the election." The Trump Org. faced several lawsuits over building the hotel, per the Times, one of which alleged it "was backed by felons and financing from Russia." Russian-born businessman Felix Sater, who has been in the news following the election for having pushed for a Trump Tower in Moscow, was involved in the deal.
Photo: United Nations Command via AP.
A video just released by the United Nations shows the North Korean soldier who defected to the South on November 13th making his getaway in a green jeep, running towards the border separating Panmunjom, North Korea from the South, and then collapsing on the South Korean side.
Why it matters: The event amounts to a violation of the armistice, since he was shot five times in his successful effort to defect from the North Korean regime, South Korea says. He was ultimately rescued by South Korean soldiers. Pyongyang has yet to say anything about the defection but the UN Command says it has requested a meeting to discuss the apparent armistice violations.
The scene, per the AP's Foster Klug: "It's 3:11 p.m. on a cold, gray day on the North Korean side of the most heavily armed border in the world, and a lone soldier is racing toward freedom."
A clue to life in North Korea: The defector had two surgeries to repair internal organ damage and is conscious. Surgeons "removed dozens of parasites from the soldier's ruptured small intestine, including presumed roundworms that were as long as 27 centimeters (10.6 inches), which may reflect poor nutrition and health in North Korea's military."
Photo: AlexKich / iStock
Unlicensed and unregulated experimental vaccines were administered to at least eight herpes patients in the United States, in direct violation of US law, according to an investigation by Marisa Taylor at Kaiser Health News. The experiments were conducted secretly for several years in a Holiday Inn Express and Crown Plaza Hotel near Carbondale, Illinois.
What we already knew: William Halford, the associate professor at Southern Illinois University who conducted the experiments, died of cancer this summer. Halford had previously been accused of dodging US oversight laws by running trials out of a house on the island of St. Kitts in 2016. The St. Kitts and Nevis government says they were not notified of the research.
Why it matters: "We're not allowed to do this in guinea pigs in this country let alone human subjects," herpes expert Anne Wald told Kaiser Health News.
Money: Despite the controversy, a number of investors, including Peter Thiel, have invested several million dollars in Rational Vaccines, the company founded by Halford and Hollywood filmmaker Agustín Fernández III.
Deception: Halford, who was not a physician, took clear steps to cover his tracks, telling participants to keep the experiment a secret and "writing that it would be 'suicide' if he became to public about how he was conducting his research," writes Taylor.
Complications: Patients have reported side effects from the vaccine. Kaiser Health News reports that one participants fear that the vaccine gave him a new, different type of herpes is "possible."
Contamination: Not only were the trials conducted in violation of US law, they were conducted using live viruses. Live virus vaccines are traditionally handled in extremely sterile areas - which Holiday Inns are not - to prevent contamination.
Manipulation: Halford used patient's desire for a cure to manipulate them into joining the unauthorized trial: "People underestimate how desperate people with genital HSV are," Wald told Kaiser Health News.
Denial: Southern Illinois University, which previously denied it had any knowledge of Halford's action, refused to comment to Taylor.
Read the full Kaiser Health News report here.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
Exxon, Shell, BP and five other big oil and natural gas companies have announced that they are joining forces to work on ways to cut emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from natural gas production, according to Wall Street Journal.
Why it matters: There has been growing pressure from government and consumers on the energy industry to find more environmentally-friendly energy sources and production methods, and Exxon's participation leaves Chevron as the only major U.S. oil company not part of the group. These companies have already made significant investments in fossil fuels, which they believe will be an important source of energy stability even as renewables gain popularity, and natural gas is the cleanest compared to oil and coal.
The companies' joint statement: "The commitment was made as part of wider efforts by the global energy industry to ensure that natural gas continues to play a critical role in helping meet future energy. Its role in the transition to a low-carbon future will be influenced by the extent to which methane emissions are reduced."
Anita Hill in 1991 and Joe Biden in 2017. Photos: John Duricka and Patrick Semansky / AP
A new look at Anita Hill's 1991 testimony against now-Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas puts a harsh spotlight on Joe Biden's handling of her allegations of sexual harassment. Biden was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, and the Washington Post magazine reports that Hill believes Biden hasn't taken responsibility for how unfairly she was treated.
Why it matters: Here's what Hill told the Post: “[W]omen were looking to the Senate Judiciary Committee and his leadership to really open the way to have these kinds of hearings. They should have been using best practices to show leadership on this issue on behalf of women's equality. And they did just the opposite."
The bottom line: Biden apologized to Hill at a Glamour magazine event earlier this month, saying he was "so sorry" for what Hill went through. Hill said she still doesn't think his comment "takes ownership of his role in what happened," and said it was a qualified apology: "That's sort of an 'I'm sorry if you were offended.'“
Biden declined to be interviewed by The Washington Post and declined to comment on Hill's response.
On Biden's speedy process:
On Biden's lack of control:
On how the media covers sexual misconduct allegations:
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Photo: Ted S. Warren / AP
The Education Department will no longer look for systematic discrimination in schools following individual complaints, according to the Associated Press.
Why it matters: This is a change from the Obama administration, which required the department to investigate whether an incident of discrimination was a part of a broader problem in a school or class. Proposed revisions from the department that were released last week omitted the word "systemic" from its guidelines, per the AP. In addition to that change, the department is moving to eliminate an appeals process, and give schools "a greater say in how a case is handled."