- Created on 12 March 2013
First Lady Michelle Obama (pictured above) has become the latest hacking victim in a string of alarming online assaults on big-named celebs and politicians whose personal finances have been publicly disclosed, reports the New York Daily News.
The Los Angeles police and now the FBI has stepped in to find the culprit/s who supplied the website Exposed.su with Mrs. Obama’s finances as well as the financial pictures of such A-listers as Donald Trump, Vice President Joe Biden, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and FBI Director Robert Mueller.
The site’s main page, which is titled “The Secret Files,” depicts a dark and zombie-like picture of a teen girl with gory makeup (pictured above) shushing the viewer with the words, “If you believe that God makes miracles, you have to wonder if Satan has a few up his sleeve.” Music from the macabre cable TV show “Dexter” is also playing in the background. Visitors are invi...
- Created on 05 March 2013
On Monday, March 5, the FBI released 128 pages of documents that span four years from 1988 to 1992 of the late, legendary singer, Whitney Houston’s life, reports 'The Guardian.'
There was a maniacal Vermont fan who was obsessed with the young diva at the time. The man professed his undying love for her and longed to one day meet her as well. The fan’s all-consuming devotion to Houston escalated to a threatening tilt which waved a red flag to the entertainer, as he attended her every concert and tried desperately to get flowers to her and wrote letters on end which were ignored. The Houston devotee who penned over 70 letters to his imagined lady-love wrote, “I might hurt someone with some crazy idea and not realize how stupid an idea it was until after it was done.” The crazed stalker’s behavior and items that he sent to Houston was monitored by the FBI.
Another fan from the Netherlands sent Houston audio tapes of songs that he had composed, one however was perceived as a threat. When he...
- Created on 17 January 2013
Black Leaders on Education: How the NAACP's President Proposes Closing the Racial Gap in Education.
(Special to The Root) -- Continuing their historical practice of working together to address issues of concern to the African-American community, the NAACP, National Urban League, United Negro College Fund and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund are working cooperatively to improve educational opportunities for all students. This week we will run op-eds by the leaders of each organization that address a crucial aspect of what it will take to prepare our young people to succeed in life. First up: The president of the NAACP addresses early-childhood education.
This month we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which set our nation on the path to the end of slavery.
Upon receiving their freedom, our ancestors' first priority was to get an education for themselves and their children. In Georgia it was illegal for slaves to read, yet schools for slaves and freedmen had been operating in secret for years. When teachers publicly opened their classroom doors in 1865, they were met with an overflow of students. With scarce federal support but a true understanding of the value of education, they built dozens of schools using their own resources and their bare hands.
My grandmother is 96. Her grandfather was a slave until the end of the Civil War. She was educated in a one-room schoolhouse in Virginia that he helped build, and at a college he helped found.
In 2013, the Year of the Black Student, our desire for generational progress is as urgent as ever. As parents, we still demand that our children have better opportunities than we did. And we are still willing to sacrifice to make that a reality.
Yet our children are growing up in states that spend more and more on prisons and less and less on public higher education. They grow up in a nation that leads the world in incarceration but can no longer claim to lead it in job creation.
If we are going to deliver on our ambitions, we must do what our ancestors did: build a better America for our children with our own hands. We will need two things: a collective plan of action and an individual commitment to do whatever we must to ensure that our children get what they need to succeed.
- Created on 18 January 2013
(AP) — Too many students worry more about being killed by a gun than learning in the classroom, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said on Thursday, as he cautioned that firearms alone do not make schools safer.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Duncan said that he understands the urgent concerns over school safety in the wake of last month's shooting in Newtown, Conn., which left 20 students dead. He called the 23 executive orders that President Barack Obama signed Tuesday a move in the correct direction but emphasized that they alone were not enough.
"This was only a first step. We need a lot less children being shot dead. We need a lot less children living in fear," he said, urging leaders to listen to teachers.
"Right now, the overwhelming majority of teachers are saying they'd love more resources," Duncan said in wide-ranging interview about his second term as the nation's top school administrator. "They do not want — they are speaking very clearly — they are saying they do not want more guns in schools."
Duncan was one of the top advisers to the White House's sweeping, $500 million gun-control package, the most comprehensive effort to tighten gun laws in almost two decades. The effort faces an uncertain future in Congress, where many Republicans are rejecting his proposals and some fellow Democrats are stopping well-short of pledging immediate action. The country's most powerful gun group has promised the "fight of the century."
Duncan, a former Chicago public schools chief, said he saw violence firsthand and urged both parties to avoid politics.
"We are not all going to agree on every issue but I think the common goal of having fewer dead children, fewer children living in fear — we have to do everything to break through," he said. "If we don't do it now, I don't know when we're going to do it."
He called youth violence a personal issue; as a child, he knew friends killed on the South Side of Chicago and as an adult who led Chicago's schools for seven years, he said he averaged a student's funeral every two weeks.
"By far, the toughest part of my job was going to those funerals, going to those homes and going to those classrooms," he told a conference of the nation's mayors who met with Duncan earlier in the day to discuss education.
He said that fear prevents students from making the most of their time in the classroom.
"If our children aren't sure if they're going to grow up, what that does to their mentality, psychology is very, very deep. They're trying to survive day to day, wondering if they're going to make it past 16, 17 and 18. ... Our whole mantra about working hard sounds a little ludicrous to them. So we have a little work to do."
Duncan said security officers at schools didn't translate to reduced violence in the schools he led.
"I had schools who used to have nine security folks there, and I put all that money into nine social workers. I saw huge reductions in violence," he said.
That same approach could be replicated across the nation, he said, although he was careful to echo Obama's call to let local school districts decide how to spend their money.
"Some schools may want a school resource officer or a social worker or psychologists. It's really important for us to listen to local communities and to empower them," Duncan said.
Yet he strongly urged leaders to listen to teachers.
"If you ask the vast majority of teachers, the vast majority of teachers don't want guns in the schools," Duncan said. "They want more social workers, counselors, mental-health services, after-school programs."
- Created on 16 January 2013
Annual spending on sports by public universities in six big-time conferences like the SEC and Big 12 has passed $100,000 per athlete — about six to 12 times the amount those universities are spending per student on academics, according to a study released Wednesday to greet college presidents arriving at the NCAA's annual meeting in Texas.
The study finds the largest gap by far in the Southeastern Conference, which combines relatively low academic spending and explosive coaching salaries. Median athletic spending there totaled nearly $164,000 per athlete in 2010. That is more than 12 times the $13,390 that SEC schools spent per student for academic expenses, including instructional costs and student services.
The schools of the Pac-10 (now the Pac 12), Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Big East also averaged six-figure spending per student athlete in 2010, the study finds. Across Division I, athletic spending —though still smaller in absolute terms — rose twice as fast as academic spending between 2005 and 2010. During that period, the schools competing in the top-level Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the NCAA upped their athletic expenditures on average $6,200 per athlete each year, according to data compiled by the Delta Cost Project at American Institutes for Research as part of an ongoing project with the pro-reform Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.
The report does not provide information about ratios at individual institutions.
Overall, FBS schools spent on average $92,000 per athlete in 2010, or just under seven times what they were spending per student on academics at a time of falling state funding for higher education in much of the country, and tuition increases widely outpacing inflation. The report did find, however, the growth rate seemed to be slowing.
The figures likely won't shock college presidents arriving in Grapevine, Texas, for the NCAA convention, but they will highlight their rising concern over out-of-control spending on intercollegiate athletics that threatens to sink budgets and compromise their academic missions. Some want the NCAA to do more to address the issue even if it can't legally limit salaries.
"How many sport video analysts do you really need?" said John Dunn, president of Western Michigan University, who gave a talk Tuesday at a preliminary portion of the meeting on rising inequality in college athletics. "How many assistants for a coach — not assistant coaches, (but) assistant office personnel, to keep his life straight?"
"While the NCAA wants to avoid being overly intrusive, they have never had a problem saying there should be x number of coaches and x number of scholarships awarded," he said. "Why not also govern how many ancillary personnel you can have?"
NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in a brief emailed statement that colleges make their own spending decisions and "are reluctant to cede authority over their budgets to the NCAA." SEC spokesman Craig Pinkerton said he would have to refer questions to Commissioner Mike Slive, who wasn't available for comment.
The conceit of the study — comparing per capita spending on athletes versus academic spending — carries some caveats. Universities already "spend" widely varying amounts on different types of students; those in majors requiring special equipment, or offering small classes, already benefit from more spending, as might those signing up for extra-curriculars or special tutoring. Knight Commission Executive Director Amy Perko said her group realizes at many institutions athletic spending per athlete will inevitably be higher than academic spending per student.
Also, "academic spending" can be a confusing category, though the study uses federal data universities must report under a precise methodology. While it includes athletic scholarships as athletic spending, for example, institutional financial aid available to other students doesn't count as "academic spending."
Still, the size of the ratios — and the fact that six conferences have broken six figures, up from four a year before — are eye-catching data points showing the extent to which Division I college athletics programs have come to inhabit separate financial universes from the academic institutions whose names they share.
Perko said it's the growing subsidies most universities kick in to cover athletic department budgets that are especially alarming. The Knight Commission has been pushing for the NCAA to incentivize institutions to stay within certain ratios of athletic-to-academic spending, to no avail. The BCS, which is organizing the new college football playoff system separately from the NCAA, has committed to tying 10 percent of the lucrative payout from the new BCS playoff system to academic benchmarks, Perko said, but she wants more done.
While new TV deals will produce more revenue, they will also likely exacerbate inequality. If adopted, recent proposals to pay athletes a stipend would also fuel spending by athletic departments, as could the increased travel required by recent conference re-alignments.
Many big spenders like the SEC schools also have the most revenue to cover those costs. A few dozen or so actually turn a profit on their athletic departments, and on average the top half of FBS programs get by on a modest university subsidy, averaging between $3 million and $6 million. But schools in the bottom half of FBS rely on much bigger subsidies from the academic side to fund athletics. That money often comes from student fees paid by non-athletes. At those schools, the subsidies now total $11 million to $14 million annually, the study found.
"The data that really jumps are out are the serious financial divides among the 300-plus Division I schools with regard to where their money comes from," Perko said. "Those differences are really causing the Division I model to really rip apart at the seams."
But even at big-name schools, financial pressures are mounting. The University of Maryland recently bolted the ACC for the Big Ten in hopes the Big Ten could help it staunch multi-million dollar annual losses in its athletic program. The University of Tennessee's athletic department recently discontinued an annual $6 million contribution the athletic department had been sending back to the university — even as it hired a new football coach, Butch Jones, at more than $3 million annually.
Dunn says what's most alarming is the gap within conferences, not between them. Western Michigan competes in the Mid-American Conference, where he said spending ranges from about $19 million to $28 million, keeping the conference competitive (WMU has to subsidize about half its athletic budget). But in conferences like the Big 12, the gap between relatively low spenders like Iowa State and Kansas State, and mammoth programs like Texas and Oklahoma, is now around $80 million. Such gaps create big incentives to cut corners.
"It's a great deal of pressure, because people want to win," he said.
The new study does not include data on private institutions, though there are only a handful in the top FBS conferences. The SEC, for instance, has just one private university: Vanderbilt.
A big driver in athletic spending has been the growth in coaching salaries and the size of athletic department staff, with compensation accounting for about one-third of athletics expenditures across the FBS. Nowhere is that on more vivid display than the SEC, which has produced the last seven BCS national football champions.
Nick Saban, whose Alabama team has won three of the last four national championships, earned $5.32 million in 2012, but every conference football coach now earns at least $2 million. Already this off-season, four losing conference programs — Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn and Arkansas — have hired new coaches at annual salaries of between $2.2 million and $3.2 million. The University of Mississippi's Hugh Freeze, the conference's lowest-paid coach, got a $500,000 raise to $2 million, a 10 percent raise for his assistants, and a $12.5 million upgrade to practice facilities.
According to the College Board, the average financial aid package at Mississippi meets just 77 percent of student need, and just 57 percent at Alabama.