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Extra Extra Monday: Nebraska releases prisoners early; Koch brothers hold secret summit; Missile defense system proves unreliable

$40-billion missile defense system proves unreliable | Los Angeles Times

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, or GMD, was supposed to protect Americans against a chilling new threat from "rogue states" such as North Korea and Iran. But a decade after it was declared operational, and after $40 billion in spending, the missile shield cannot be relied on, even in carefully scripted tests that are much less challenging than an actual attack would be, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found.

The Missile Defense Agency has conducted 16 tests of the system's ability to intercept a mock enemy warhead. It has failed in eight of them, government records show.

 

Nebraska prison doors open too soon | Omaha World-Herald

The examination of prison records revealed that Nebraska Department of Correctional Services officials had released or were set to release dozens of prisoners years before their sentences were supposed to end.

All told, state officials had carved at least 750 years off the collective sentences of more than 200 of the state’s worst criminals. The problem: The department was using a formula that doesn’t square with how sentences should be calculated.

After The World-Herald revealed its findings Friday to Corrections Director Michael Kenney, he immediately directed staff to recalculate the sentences. He said he had been unaware of the problem.

 

Friends want probe of 77-year-old's death after arrest | Springfield News-Leader

Branson residents are questioning why city police arrested a 77-year-old man with health problems on an Arkansas bad check warrant from 1996 and held him in jail for five days.

Shortly after his release from Taney County Jail, Evans E. Ray was found dead in his home. It's unclear how long he was deceased in the home before he was found.

 

Uncertified teachers in NY state classrooms | Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, N.Y.)

The New York State Education Department’s most recent list of teachers whose credentials do not match their teaching assignments includes 4,280 assignments in more than 1,100 schools across the state, a Central New York Media Group review of state education records found.

While employing an unqualified teacher is a misdemeanor in New York, the state Education Department does almost nothing to crack down on instances where districts sidestep certification rules. The Education Department notifies school districts of instances where teachers may lack proper credentials, but its involvement ends there. Some school districts take action to fix the problem, and others do not.

 

Secret Summit: 24 hours with the Koch brothers | inewsource.org

Last weekend and into today, the billionaire Koch brothers and supporters converged on the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point. This columned, luxury compound, little more than an hour north of San Diego, has 400 rooms, a spa, a golf course, a private beach and six restaurants. Staff confirmed the entire hotel — including food and beverage service — had been bought out for a special event.

An event so secret it had a code name on the schedule: “T&R Sales Meeting.”

Hotel guests who weren’t part of the conference — including two inewsource reporters who stayed the night Friday — were escorted out of the hotel by security on Saturday afternoon.

 

Kids with no vaccinations clustered in some schools | The Columbus Dispatch

Some Ohio schools might as well have a target painted on the side of the building as far as public-health experts are concerned.

In some schools in the state, as many as 1 in 3 incoming kindergartners and newly enrolled older students have parents who oppose vaccines, according to a Dispatch analysis of schools’ immunization counts.

 

Bottom line is more than meets the eyes | The Virginian-Pilot

In one of the most recent releases, Medicare published data about payments to physicians and for outpatient services.

Dr. Alan Wagner’s name stuck out.

According to the records, in 2012, he collected upward of $6 million from the government insurance for seniors, the second-highest amount among nearly 20,000 physicians and other individual providers listed in Virginia. Only a Richmond-based radiologist specializing in minimally invasive procedures ranked higher, receiving $8.2 million from Medicare.

 

St. Clair County doles out more than $3.3 million in settlements behind closed doors | News-Democrat (Belleville, IL)

More than $3.3 million in legal settlements have been approved behind closed doors in St. Clair County in the past 10 years -- possibly in violation of the state's Sunshine laws.

The settlements range from $900,000 to a teenage boy allegedly sexually abused at the county's Juvenile Detention Center to $1,000 to a person claiming injuries when placed under arrest by sheriff's deputies. The county admits no wrongdoing as part of the settlements. County officials released the settlements to the News-Democrat following a request through the Freedom of Information Act.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/06/14/3256998/st-clair-county-doles-out-more.html#storylink=cp

"Some Ohio schools might as well have a target painted on the side of the building as far as public-health experts are concerned.

In some schools in the state, as many as 1 in 3 incoming kindergartners and newly enrolled older students have parents who oppose vaccines, according to a Dispatch analysis of schools’ immunization counts."

Read the full story from The Columbus Dispatch here.

Sixty years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in 21 states was unconstitutional, diversity is not guaranteed in Maryland's schools. Ten percent of the schools in Maryland have a high percentage of black students, nearly all of them in Baltimore City and Prince George's County, according to a Baltimore Sun analysis. And no political or education leaders are recommending a consolidation of suburban and urban districts that experts say would be needed to truly address an imbalance driven largely by neighborhood demographics.

Read the full story from The Baltimore Sun here.

There is no limit to how many hours Rochester School District supervisory staffers can exchange, save for what they carry over and accrue in a given year. And they have cashed out in greater number, for more hours and more pay on average than other district employees, records show. Over the past three years, they accounted for an average $2.2 million of the district's $3 million annual payout for unused vacation.

Read the full story from the Democrat and Chronicle here.

Despite the economic downturn, which saw a 1.3 percent decrease in the median salary of American households, sports revenue at public colleges and universities increased by 32 percent between 2008 and 2013. Spending on coaches salaries increased by 45 percent. 

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" took a look at the numbers and broke them down in a graphic, ranking schools by total revenue, expenses and amount of surplus.

The investigation focused on data from public schools obtained through open records requests. It is unclear whether there is a practice among athletic departments of padding expenses to obscure their bottom line. But at least some departments do give back to their schools, contributing a portion of their surplus back to the university's general fund.

More white students are walking the halls at Chicago’s top four public high schools.

At Walter Payton College Prep on the Near North Side, more than 41 percent of freshmen admitted the past four years have been white, compared to 29 percent in 2009, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of Chicago Public Schools data has found.

The increase in the number of white students fulfills the predictions of education observers that minority students would be edged out of slots at the city’s top schools as a result of a 2009 ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras lifting a 1980 consent decree that had required Chicago’s schools to be desegregated, with no school being more than 35 percent white.

Read the full story here.

When the Savannah-Chatham School Board agreed to pay JE Dunn/Rives E. Worrell construction company $21 million to build a new Hesse Elementary campus, they believed the 50 percent JE Dunn/Rives E. Worrell promised to women- and minority-owned subcontractors would make a huge impact on the local economy.

Now, that’s open to question.

Washington has become the first state in the country to lose its waiver for No Child Left Behind. This after the state voted down the use of student test scores as part of teacher evaluations. Schools will lose control of about $40 million. However, private tutoring companies could be positioned to reap the benefits.

With the waiver, those like the Tacoma School District opened preschools and hired instructional coaches. Money that will now to go mandatory tutoring.

Yet another university community has been accused of denying justice to a female sexual assault victim in order to protect a star male athlete. The New York Times today chronicled the shortcomings of an investigation by Tallahassee police into a reported sexual assault in which Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston was the alleged assailant.

Police failed to conduct a proper investigation when the incident was reported, the Times found. Even after the accuser identified her attacker to the police, Winston was never interviewed and DNA evidence was not collected. By the time prosecutors began to investigate 11 months later, the trail had gone cold.

The university also failed to conduct any investigation of its own into the incident, though there is evidence that the athletics department was aware that there was an open police investigation.

Read the story here.

In a highly unusual move a little more than a year ago, a special grand jury declared that Portsmouth school officials had violated state law by holding on to tens of millions in year-end surplus dollars that should have been returned to the city.

Yet six times since the financial maneuvers were first challenged by city officials, school officials have handled money – or attempted to – in ways that two experts on government accounting, interviewed by The Virginian-Pilot, deemed questionable or inappropriate.

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