Obama to start pilot program that gives Pell grants for college to prisoners

More than 20 years after banning prisoners from receiving student aid, some federal and state inmates could be eligible for Pell grant money to take college courses while still behind bars.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the administration’s new Second Chance Pell Pilot program during a visit Friday to the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, Maryland.

“America is a nation of second chances,” Duncan said. “Giving people who have made mistakes in their lives a chance to get back on track and become contributing members of society is fundamental to who we are. It can also be a cost-saver for taxpayers.”

The program will allow, on a temporary basis, federal grants to be used to cover college costs for prisoners for the first time since Congress excluded them from student aid in 1994. It will last three to five years and be open to prisoners who are eligible for release, particularly within the next five years. Inmates could be eligible for the money as early as the fall of 2016.

Pell grants are for low-income people and do not have to be repaid.

Republicans were quick to criticize the program, saying it rewards people who break the law at the expense of hard-working Americans and that the administration doesn’t have authority to act without an OK from Congress.

GOP Rep. Chris Collins of New York introduced legislation to block Pell money from being used in the experimental program, saying it will “put the cost of a free college education for criminals on the backs of the taxpayers.”

A Republican committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said the idea may be worthwhile for some prisoners, “but the administration absolutely does not have the authority to do this without approval from Congress, because the Higher Education Act prohibits prisoners from receiving Pell Grants.” Alexander, chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and an education secretary under President George H.W. Bush, said the administration should focus on existing job training and re-entry programs.

Congress passed legislation in 1994 banning government student aid to prisoners in federal or state institutions. But the Education Department said it can set up the temporary pilot program because of the experimental sites section of the Higher Education Act of 1965. It gives federal officials flexibility to test the effectiveness of temporary changes to the way federal student aid is distributed.

Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell said the ban is over 20 years old, and “we think that a lot has changed” since then. He said the pilot program will help provide data to see if the ban should still stay in place. Mitchell said the program will “not compromise or displace any Pell grant eligibility for any other populations.”

As the end of his presidency draws closer, President Barack Obama has taken on criminal justice reform more aggressively, taking executive action as well as pushing for new legislation. Some of those initiatives have attracted bipartisan interest, as Republican presidential candidates including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie promote the need for changes in the justice system.

Earlier this month, Obama commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders — the most commutations a president has issued on a single day in at least four decades. He also ordered a federal review of the use of solitary confinement, called for voting rights to be restored to felons who have served their sentences, asked employers to stop asking job candidates about past convictions and urged that long mandatory minimum sentences now in place be reduced or discarded entirely.

Supporters of the administration’s Pell pilot program point to a 2013 Rand study that found incarcerated people who took part in prison education programs were 43 percent less likely to return to prison within three years than prisoners who didn’t participate in any correctional education. For every dollar invested in correctional education programs, Rand estimates that four to five dollars are saved on three year re-incarceration costs.

The Education Department did not provide any estimates on how many prisoners might participate in the pilot program. Mitchell said the costs will be “modest” but he was not able to put a dollar figure on the program.

The federal Pell program provided grants ranging from $582 to $5,645 to more than 8.6 million students in 2013-2014, according to the department. The maximum award for the current 2015-2016 school year is $5,775.

The Maryland Correctional Institution that Duncan and Lynch visited has a partnership with nearby Goucher College. More than 70 prisoners are enrolled in Goucher College through the school’s Prison Education Partnership, which began classes for prisoners in 2012 and does not receive public funding.

Goucher is part of the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, based at Bard College in New York. Wesleyan University in Connecticut and Grinnell College in Iowa also are part of the consortium.

I have no issue helping someone who has earned a second chance, but there are many students who cannot go to college without major expenses from student loans that hang over their head for years.

And these kids have never broken the law or made bad choices. We are seriously falling out of bed in the schooling of our kids these days. Many countries offer college students free tuitions but we are stuck on the almighty dollar still.

Rowdy Roddy Piper dies today at 61


WWE Hall of Famer Roderick George Toombs, a.k.a. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, passed away at his home in Hollywood today at the age of 61, according to TMZ Sports. According to the report, Piper died of natural causes.

Piper was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. He was scheduled to wrestle at the Survivor Series that year, teaming with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Sgt. Slaughter and Dusty Rhodesagainst the Spirit Squad, however he was replaced in the match by Ron Simmons. He stated in an interview with The Hillsboro Tribune last November that he was now cancer free.

“The cancer is gone as far as I know,” Piper said. “I’ve passed the five-year mark. It’s one of those things that haunts you a little bit, especially when you go as hard as I did. I’m doing OK, but about a year ago, I was driving home and I couldn’t breathe and almost passed out. I was trying to ignore it, but I had a blood clot in my lung and spent some time in the hospital. I need to start being careful. I’m not sure we’re invincible anymore.”

Here is his entrance music:

There was a guy I enjoyed very much over the years………

Russell Wilson, Seahawks agree to 4-year, $87.5 million contract

The Seattle Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson have agreed to a contract extension, according to Peter King. The deal is worth $87.5 million over four years, a significant pay upgrade for the Super Bowl-winning quarterback. The deal includes a $31 million signing bonus and roughly $60 million in guaranteed money.

Wilson was entering the final year of his four-year, $3 million rookie contract. Wilson’s rookie contract did not include a fifth-year option because he wasn’t a first-round pick. Because of that, Seattle would have had to use the franchise tag on him in 2016 — currently projected at more than $25 million — if no extension had been signed by then.

Wilson is the second of the four starting quarterbacks selected in the 2012 NFL Draft to receive a new deal. Ryan Tannehill signed a six-year, $95.3 million deal earlier this offseason. However, it was Cam Newton’s five-year, $103.8 million extension that raised the price even more for young quarterbacks. Andrew Luck is the next quarterback in line to receive a new contract, which will now likely be priced similarly to Wilson’s.

Earlier in the offseason, it was reported that Wilson and the Seahawks could end up agreeing to a fully guaranteed contract. That news came after Wilson guided the Seahawks to Super Bowl XLIX, where Seattle narrowly lost to New England after Wilson threw a goal-line interception with under a minute to play.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! Who can afford going to those games now? They have salary cap that good? TV revenues are that good?


Data in Hillaries ‘secret’ emails came from 5 intelligence agencies

Data in Hillaries ‘secret’ emails came from 5 intelligence agencies

Of the five classified emails, the one known to be connected to Benghazi was among 296 emails made public in May by the State Department. Intelligence community officials have determined it was improperly released.

Revelations about the emails have put Clinton in the crosshairs of a broadening inquiry into whether she or her aides mishandled classified information when she used a private server set up at her New York home to conduct official State Department business.

While campaigning for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton has repeatedly denied she ever sent or received classified information. Two inspectors general have indicated that five emails they have reviewed were not marked classified at the time they were stored on her private server but that the contents were in fact “secret.”

The email issue, however, has distracted from Clinton’s campaign for days and already has hurt her in public opinion polls. Besieged with questions, she has found herself caught in a murky dispute between State Department and intelligence officials over whether emails on her server were classified.

“Even if Secretary Clinton or her aides didn’t run afoul of any criminal provisions, the fact that classified information was identified within the emails is exactly why use of private emails … is not supposed to be allowed,” said Bradley Moss, a Washington attorney who specializes in national security matters. “Both she and her team made a serious management mistake that no one should ever repeat.”

McClatchy also has determined some details of the five emails that the intelligence community’s inspector general has described as classified and improperly handled.

Intelligence officials who reviewed the five classified emails determined that they included information from five separate intelligence agencies, said a congressional official with knowledge of the matter.

The Benghazi email made public contained information from the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a spy agency that maps and tracks satellite imagery, according to the official, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The other four classified emails contained information from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA, the official said.

The Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General did not respond to questions about the matter. The five agencies either referred questions about it to the inspector general’s office or declined to comment.

The intelligence community inspector general only looked at a sample of 40 emails, even though a total of 30,000 emails were turned over to the State Department by Clinton.

In documents that were publicly released, Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III said State Department officials had warned that there were “potentially hundreds of classified emails” on Clinton’s private server.

Clinton’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment. Clinton has maintained she used a personal email account as a “matter of convenience” and has denied she emailed any classified material.

“The facts are pretty clear,” Clinton said at a campaign stop Saturday in Iowa. “I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time.”

Clinton said she had “no idea” which emails the inspector general had singled out.

The State Department so far has refused to grant the intelligence community inspector general access to the entire batch of emails on jurisdictional grounds. The inspector general has authority to audit and investigate matters related to 17 intelligence community agencies, including a State Department intelligence unit.

On June 25, McCullough notified members of Congress that he understood that Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, possessed the more than 30,000 Clinton emails on a computer thumb drive.

In a July 24 letter to FBI Director James Comey, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa expressed concern about “a compromise of national security information” because of Kendall’s possession of the thumb drive. He called on Comey to explain what steps the FBI had taken to secure the information.

“This raises very serious questions and concerns if a private citizen is somehow retaining classified information,” wrote Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Kendall did not respond to phone and email messages. The FBI and the Justice Department declined to say whether security officials had recovered the device or had arranged for its secure storage.

John Fitzpatrick, the official responsible for overseeing the government’s security classification system, told McClatchy that during the review of four years of Clinton’s State Department emails it became clear that intelligence agencies were concerned State Department officials were not appropriately protecting classified information in screening documents for public release.

State Department officials routinely gather and report diplomatic information that “in an intelligence context could be read very differently,” said Fitzpatrick, the director of the Information Security Oversight Office at the National Archives.

Government employees with access to classified information are trained to identify classified information, Fitzpatrick said.

“The requirement to mark is so that you know it when you see it,” he said. “Failure to observe any of the requirements for marking or safeguarding would be in a category known as a security violation.”

Failing to properly mark information as classified would not necessarily result in criminal charges, he said.

“But there can be consequences for holders of security clearances,” Fitzpatrick said. “If they fail to safeguard the information, once or as part of a pattern, they can be administratively reprimanded” or retrained.

Secretary of State John Kerry and State Department Inspector General Steve Linick will meet this week to talk about the issue, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Wednesday.

“Secretary Kerry wants to get to the bottom of this, hear what the concerns are and then figure out if they need to take any action,” Schultz said. “So, I think that’s the right step and we support him doing so.”

The White House has not said that Clinton did not follow rules, but it has repeatedly said that “very specific guidance has been given to agencies all across the government, which is specifically that employees in the Obama administration should use their official email accounts when they’re conducting official government business.”

The House Select Committee on Benghazi subpoenaed the emails while asking Clinton to voluntarily turn over her personal email server to a “neutral, detached and independent” third party for “immediate inspection and review,” perhaps the State Department’s inspector general.

Clinton’s attorney told the committee that Clinton permanently deleted all the emails from the server — apparently after she was asked by the State Department to turn them over. Clinton has refused to hand over the server.

The State Department has begun to release her emails in response to a public records lawsuit, though four of the emails containing classified information were among those that have not yet been released. The next batch is due to be released Friday. Clinton has agreed to testify about her email arrangements on Oct. 22 before the committee investigating Benghazi.

Gee is this all a big fucking surprise?

Winning lottery number appears on TV before drawing

BELGRADE, Serbia — The head of Serbia’s state lottery resigned on Thursday following allegations of fraud during a live ticket draw this week.

In a live broadcast Tuesday evening, one of the numbers in the winning combination appeared on TV screens before it was actually drawn. That sparked accusations that the numbers had been chosen in advance.

The State Lottery has denied fraud and blamed the incident on a “technical mistake.” The company head, Aleksandar Vulovic, said Thursday that he was stepping down out of “moral obligation.”

“The draw was completely in accordance with the rules and the company abides by the law,” the state lottery said in a statement.

Police said lottery employees who worked during the draw will undergo a lie detector test, while computers and other equipment have been impounded. Police said they have questioned six people in the scandal.

The lottery is very popular in Serbia, a Balkan country with a poor economy and widespread corruption.

The last sentence might explain this snafu………

Drought reveals Lake Mead’s hidden historic sites

Like reservoirs throughout the drought-stricken West, Nevada’s Lake Mead is far below capacity, down more than 60 percent. But even as the drought deepens, tourists are flowing in.

Lake Mead gets more visitors than either Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, and some are coming to see the surprising sites that are revealed as the lake shrinks, CBS News’ John Blackstone reports.

The ruins of the Old West town of St. Thomas were hidden for decades under the water. But Lake Mead has receded so far that tourists can now hike 1 mile across the desert to examine what’s left, with no water in sight.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area public affairs officer Christie Vanover said she and Blackstone were standing in an area that in the 1990s would have been covered by 100 feet of water.

St. Thomas was founded in 1865 by Mormon pioneers. It was a thriving and, at times, lawless town.

“Things got a little wild out here. There were some horse thieves. There were some cattle rustlers,” Vanover said.

When the U.S. government bought the land in the 1930s to make room for Lake Mead, it’s been said a few residents refused to leave, believing the valley wouldn’t flood.

Another long-lost piece of history remains underwater, a B-29 Superfortress. It rests at a depth of about 105 feet, but shallow enough for sunlight to filter down.

“The other advantage of it being shallower is that more divers can actually access it,” Tech Diving Unlimited’s Joel Silverstein said.

He leads about a 100 dives a year to the military relic.

“The B-29s were very important during World War II. They carried all the different bombs and a lot of people flew in them. And they were the most popular and most used plane in World War II,” Silverstein said.

Back in 1948, that B-29 that crashed into the lake was on a secret mission. The crew of five survived, and the plane remained undisturbed for nearly 70 years.

While there is certainly less water in Lake Mead, it’s still the major attraction for most of the tourists who visit.

Marina owner Bruce Nelson grew up at Lake Mead and said the lower water level has created some new hazards but also new scenery.

“You have new beaches, new coves, new things you can explore,” he said.

Lake Mead has always been at odds with its surroundings — a mammoth body of water in one of the hottest, driest places in the West. While the long drought peels away some of its past, the prediction of heavy El Niño rains this winter may help ensure the lake’s future and reclaim its historic treasures.

The western states are going to be in serious trouble soon. OOOOPS maybe we already are.

Retro of the day: Barry Manilow



Can’t Smile Without You” is a song written by Christian Arnold, David Martin, and Geoff Morrow, best known in its rendition by Barry Manilow.

“Can’t Smile Without You” was the first single to be released from Manilow’s album Even Now. The song was released as a single in 1978 where it reached the number one spot on Billboard‘s AC chart, and the number three spot on the Billboard Hot 100.[2] Previously, the song was recorded by The Carpenters on their album A Kind of Hush in 1976, and was featured as the B-side of their hit “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” the following year. Manilow’s version had slightly different lyrics from the Carpenters, such as the Carpenters’s line “I can’t laugh and I can’t walk / I’m finding it hard even to talk,” was changed in Manilow’s version to “I can’t laugh and I can’t sing / I’m finding it hard to do anything” (the latter is likely the original lyric, changed by the Carpenters because the lyric “I can’t sing” when being sung makes no sense). The Carpenters remixed the song for the B-side of “Calling Occupants” in September 1977, again revising the lyric to read “I can’t laugh and I can’t sleep / I don’t even talk to people I meet”. Additional orchestration was also included in the remix.