June 6, 2014
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Obama Task Force on Chemical Dangers: Strong Enough?

Last year, a devastating chemical plant explosion in the town of West, Texas,  killed 15 people and injured 160 more.  The tragedy seemed to reawaken in President Obama a determination to improve safety and security at America’s industrial chemical facilities, whose dangers, from catastrophic accident or terrorist attack, led him, as a Senator, to call them “stationary weapons of mass destruction spread all across the country.”  Obama spoke movingly at a memorial services for the Texas victims.  And he issued an executive order directing federal agencies to develop a plan for action to prevent future disasters.

The President’s task force, minutes …

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June 5, 2014
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Leader of Attack on Obama Global Warming Plan? Rudy Giuliani’s Firm

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, New York’s Rudolph Giuliani became “America’s Mayor,” mobilizing his city and standing as a defiant foe of the forces of terrorism. Then, after the devastating force in the New York area of superstorm Sandy, Giuliani, campaigning in 2012 for Mitt Romney, again presented himself as a protector of the people, charging that President Obama’s reaction to Sandy was “disgraceful.”

But when it comes to curbing forces that could lead to more violent storms like Sandy, Giuliani is decidedly not on the side of protecting people. Because there is an overwhelming scientific consensus that the burning …

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May 27, 2014
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Obama Must Stop Giving Taxpayer Billions to Colleges That Ruin Students’ Lives

Tonight at midnight ET is the deadline for people to comment on the Obama Administration’s gainful employment rule for career college programs.  Below is the text of my comment (pdf here), just submitted. 

To: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Re: Program Integrity – Gainful Employment, Docket ID ED-2014-OPE-0039

Dear Secretary Duncan:

I participate in the work of the coalition of more than 50 organizations, from the AFL-CIO to Consumers Union, the NAACP to National Council of La Raza, Paralyzed Veterans of America to Young Invincibles, who have today submitted a comment urging you to strengthen the gainful employment rule with specific changes, and …

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May 23, 2014
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Top Donor for House Education Chair is For-Profit College Facing Federal and State Fraud Probes

As reported yesterday by OpenSecrets, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has no serious opposition in her bid for reelection, yet has received more than $800,000 in campaign contributions. More than half of that money has come from outside North Carolina, much of it from corporate special interests.

The biggest industry donating to Foxx, who is chair of the House subcommittee on higher education, is the for-profit education industry, which is fighting to stop the Obama Administration’s “gainful employment” rule.  That regulation, for which public comments are due on Tuesday, would hold predatory companies in the career education industry accountable for its …

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May 13, 2014
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Marco Rubio: The Dirty Energy President

On Sunday’s ABC “This Week,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) expressed two notable opinions. First, he said he’s ready to be president of the United States. Second, he asserted that climate change is not caused by humans and cannot be slowed by regulation:

RUBIO:  I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate.  Our climate is always changing.  And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and — and …

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May 6, 2014

Suze Orman Warns Against Private Student Loans, Yet Teaches at University of Phoenix

Last year I reported that Suze Orman had been hired by the University of Phoenix to teach an online personal finance course and had appeared at a Capitol Hill event where she promoted the school, which is the largest for-profit college in the country.  It was difficult to understand how a woman who proclaims herself “undeniably America’s most recognized expert on personal finance” could accept such a role when, for many people, enrolling at a for-profit college can be the worst financial decision they make in their entire lives.  While some graduates …

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May 5, 2014
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Exposed: For-Profit Colleges’ Blueprint for Blocking Obama Regulations

Posted on the website of an accounting firm in Puerto Rico is a revealing PowerPoint presentation dated February 20, 2014, and credited to Steve Gunderson, the CEO of APSCU, the trade association of for-profit colleges. It outlines APSCU’s plan for defeating the Obama Administration’s key regulation aimed at holding for-profit colleges accountable for leaving students with insurmountable debt.

Gunderson’s presentation was in fact one of several apparently delivered by for-profit college representatives and advisors at a February APSCU meeting in Puerto Rico.  Collectively, these documents provide some valuable insights into the troubled for-profit college industry.

The Gunderson PowerPoint document lays out …

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May 2, 2014
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Washington Post Opposes Regulating For-Profit Colleges Without Disclosing Publisher’s Stake In The Industry

This week the Washington Post editorialized against President Obama’s “gainful employment” rule, aimed at holding career training programs accountable for leaving students with insurmountable debt, without disclosing that the newspaper’s publisher, Katharine Weymouth, serves on the board of directors of a company that owns for-profit colleges and that is lobbying actively against the rule.

An April 27 masthead opinion from the Post’s editorial board declared that the gainful employment rule would “make it more difficult for poor Americans to earn a secondary degree” and cited favorably arguments made by Steve Gunderson, the head of the for-profit colleges trade association, APSCU. …

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