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<July 2014>


'Die Hard' actor dies
James Shigeta, a prolific and pioneering Asian-American actor whose 50-year career includes the movies "Die Hard" and "Flower Drum Song," died in his sleep in Los Angeles on Monday, his agent said. He was 81.

Family feud cost millions of lives
On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Over the next week, Europe's royals exchange a flurry of telegrams.

Last Enola Gay crewman dies
Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, who navigated the Enola Gay when it dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, has died, his family says.

Current Weather Conditions In Guthrie, OK
Rain Shower, and 71 ° F. For more details?


New report shows nearly $2 billion of GI Bill funds go to for-profit colleges

Senator Tom Harkin_Official Portrait

Veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan are enrolling at for-profit colleges and some of those companies operating on campus “appear to be taking advantage of a loophole.” That loophole lets the companies count GI Bill benefits as non-federal (non-taxpayer) money, according to a report released earlier today from Senator Tom Harkin, chairmen of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Pensions (HELP) Committee.

The report shows for-profit college companies received $1.7 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits during the 2012-2013 school year. That’s nearly a quarter of the benefits paid under the program the companies are pocketing. While overall enrollment in these institutions fell between 2009 and 2013, the report indicates the enrollment of veterans has “dramatically increased,” allowing those companies to cash in on the loophole Harkin identifies.

Also according to the report, “veterans are unusually attractive students for for-profit colleges [because] those eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits offer [them] a guaranteed stream of federal revenue.” Additionally, unlike students with federal student loans, veterans attending are not at risk of default because the U.S. government foots the bill.

Furthermore, while the Higher Education Act requires that at least ten percent of the revenue comes “from sources other than federal financial aid funds,” the Post-9/11 GI Bill does not count as federal financial aid under Title IV.

In the 2008-2009 academic school year, the report notes “as many as 60 percent of the total number of students who enrolled in some of the companies receiving the largest amounts of GI Bill benefits left school within a year of enrollment,” without a degree or a diploma.
This means taxpayers are paying twice as much for veterans to go to these institutions than public schools, for an education they never even complete.

One of the schools which has received the most Post-9/11 GI Benefits, Corinthian Colleges Inc., is planning to sell or close its 100 campuses over the next six months. Corinthian reached a deal with the Department of Education in June following accusations employees changed grades, falsified attendance and job placement reports and inappropriately marketed its programs.

Seven other for-profit college companies are also facing similar investigations by states attorneys general or federal agencies for “deceptive and misleading recruiting,” according to the report.

According to this Center for Investigative Reporting, PBS NewsHour collaborative report, University of Phoenix Vice President, Garland Williams said, veterans choose those schools because of the programs they offer.

“We have over a hundred programs that we offer… and those programs lead to careers that they want to aspire to,” said Williams.

This story and PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The post New report shows nearly $2 billion of GI Bill funds go to for-profit colleges appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

U.S. economy grows at four percent rate

The U.S. economy was expected get off to a slow start this year after a strong end to 2013 and an icy winter. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

The U.S. economy was expected get off to a slow start this year after a strong end to 2013 and an icy winter. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 4 percent this spring, rebounding strongly from the disappointing numbers in winter.

Increased personal consumption, advances in the inventories of private industries, along with more government spending both locally and federally, were cited to be the key components in the spurred growth in the initial report on the second quarter. The GDP’s growth out-performed expectations from economists that the economy would grow at a rate of 3 percent in the April-June quarter.

Economists concluded that the unusual stormy weather was a major factor in the decline in the first quarter when the economy shrank by 2.1 percent. Even though that was an improvement from the 2.9 percent contraction the government had initially announced, it was still the most troubling reduction since 2009 when the economy was in the throes of the ‘great recession.’ This has led to some concern that the unexpectedly strong numbers in the second quarter only represent an overcorrection from the unexpected first quarter problems.

On Wednesday, the government released even more revised data, showing that the second half of 2013 saw the fastest growth in a decade — more than initially estimated — but 2011 and 2012 also showed less growth than expected.

It is still unclear whether the more robust numbers will prod the Fed to increase interest rates sooner than expected. Most observers predict the Federal Reserve will wait to increase interest rates until early 2015 to avoid offsetting the current growth. The Fed is expected to release a statement later Wednesday.

Economists are largely taking the numbers as a positive sign that the economy is pulling even further out of the recession and will continue its strong growth heading into 2015. The rest of the year is forecasted to provide a 3 percent annual increase.

The post U.S. economy grows at four percent rate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

The changing face of California’s water war

Parks Water Resources drills for water in Winters, California, 30 miles west of Sacramento. Photo by Spencer Michels

Parks Water Resources drills for water in Winters, California, 30 miles west of Sacramento. Photos by Spencer Michels

As California suffers through an historic drought, with penalties for wasting water going into effect this week, something unusual is going on: the state and the farmers seem to be agreeing on how to manage groundwater. Or how not to manage it.

It may be political, it may be practical, but it is somewhat of a first in a state that has fought over water since the days of the Gold Rush. This year the snowpack (that usually provides water well into the summer) is small, and the amount of water in the state’s rivers is down about a third. That means less water for farmers who depend on the state’s vast network of canals, dams and reservoirs to keep their crops growing. So many of them have turned to groundwater, the water under the surface of the land, that is pumped to the surface from the aquifers that exist below the ground.

California water drillThe odd thing is that while surface water is regulated and allocated and channeled and paid for, groundwater in California is hardly regulated at all. Other states have stringent rules. But in California, a farmer can drill a well (as a lot of them are doing right now) and pump to his heart’s content. Of course that depletes the aquifer, or takes water away from a neighbor, and in fact throughout the state groundwater levels are sinking. Wells must be drilled deeper and deeper, and some producing wells are coming up dry. The water that usually recharges the aquifer is absent this year, and that creates fear among scientists that there won’t be enough groundwater to meet the demand.

So you would think a solution is for the state to regulate groundwater — make some rules that would allow for equitable distribution of that water or have penalties for taking too much water or wasting it. Hardly anybody argues with that concept. But the big question is who should make the rules and enforce them. The state legislature is trying to come up with regulations. But there is widespread skepticism about regulating groundwater from Sacramento.

Farmers react viscerally to the concept of regulating their well water. They claim that it’s theirs, and they don’t’ want anyone telling them what crops they can grow and how much water they can use. They are pressuring the state to go easy; if regulations are to be made, better they should come from small irrigation districts that know the farmers and their needs.

And oddly enough state government seems to be listening. Without saying so, the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown is soft pedaling the idea of regulating groundwater. Felicia Marcus, the chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, says “the issue with groundwater is an interesting one. It has to do with a community resource that should be managed at a community level.” She admits there is an “ongoing dialogue … calling for some state action to help encourage locals to actually manage this resource in a fair and equitable way.” That’s a pretty diplomatic statement for a state that has built dams and canals you can see from outer space, and is planning on building more to move water from the north to the south, invoking all sorts of fights between urban and agricultural water users and environmentalists.

Of course Marcus and the state have some science on their side. “I don’t think there needs to be one way of doing it,” she says. “Because every community is different, every groundwater basin is different.”

Bottom line: the administration doesn’t want to antagonize the farmers by imposing statewide rules that agriculture will fight with all they’ve got. And with Jerry Brown hoping to get a large water transfer program, including huge tunnels, built, it’s not a good time to antagonize the agricultural community.

So farmers and municipalities continue to pump, while they debate how to “manage” (that’s the term they use, rather than regulate) a valuable but endangered resource.

A full report will air soon on PBS NewsHour.

The post The changing face of California’s water war appeared first on PBS NewsHour.