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Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., heads the Senate appropriations hearing on the $3.7 billion the Obama Administration is requesting to remedy the most recent border and immigration crisis.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., heads the Senate appropriations hearing on the $3.7 billion the Obama Administration is requesting to remedy the most recent border and immigration crisis.



Benefits of globalization of the defense industry include both enhanced competition and broader avenues of technology, William J. Lynn III, the CEO of Finmeccanica North America explained. 

Lynn’s talk was followed by a Q&A session with Steven Grundman, a George Lund Fellow at the Atlantic Council. View the Q&A here

Follow reporters @Larson_Eliza and @AlixHines on Twitter for updates on the defense industry. 



States, including Ohio, debate minimum wage

Thirteen states, including Ohio, are increasing their minimum wages instead of waiting around for Congress to act. While minimum wage employees and activists are happy with the raise, economists are split.


The scientific name for cacao trees translates to “food of the gods.” That sounds about right. Happy Chocolate Day!(Photo: Shutterstock)


The scientific name for cacao trees translates to “food of the gods.” That sounds about right. Happy Chocolate Day!

(Photo: Shutterstock)



USA vs. Belgium

Don’t be alarmed if you notice some of your colleagues shouting at their computers today. The United States faces Belgium at 4 p.m. ET in a do or die game. The winner advances to the final eight and the loser is sent home.

Not up to speed with World Cup predictions or standings? No problem. Here’s a little cheat sheet: (Information compiled by Bloomberg)


Belgium is favored to win this match.

Odds of winning: BEL (74.6 %) and USA (26.0%)


FIFA World Rank: 13

World Cup Appearances: 9

Best Result: Third Place (1930)

Team Nickname: The Stars and Stripes

Key player: Clint Dempsey. He is a forward and is from the Seattle Sounders. 


FIFA World Rank: 11

World Cup Appearances:11

Best Result: Fourth Place (1986)

Team Nickname: Rode Duivels (Red Devils)

Key Player: Eden Hazard. He is a forward and plays for Chelsea. 



Ex-Im Bank: a legacy from the Great Depression

Not many people really knew the Ex-Im Bank until recently. It was originally created in 1934 to promote trade with the Soviet Union. It is an official export credit agency in America, not a commercial bank. Its mandate is to facilitate exports and promote export-related jobs by providing loans and guarantees to foreign companies that purchase American goods and service. Lately, the Democrats and Republicans are debating if the government should re-authorize the bank. If it cannot get a new charter at the end of September, its business will be suspended.

Proponents of the bank believe it helps create jobs, improve US trade balance and fill up the gaps where private lenders ignore. However, many opponents argue the bank crowds out private lending and does not create new jobs.

The question is if the bank is shut down, how does it impact the economy? Will export drop? Will people lose their jobs? Will private lenders be able to do a better job to fill in the gap? It takes a long article to explain all these questions. But here’s one quick answer. Government subsidies do not affect the overall level of exports. A country’s current account is determined by its investment and savings. It’s macroeconomics 101. If there is nothing that the private lenders can’t do, perhaps it is time to think about ending this legacy from the old days. 

Stay tuned with my coming story about the Ex-Im Bank.


Champions of Change

imageSixteen “Champions of Change” were recognized today by Attorney General Eric Holder for their successful re-entry into society and for their organizations, which aim to help ex-convicts with job training and employment.

Holder announced that the department of Justice will issue $4 million in support of re-entery and job training programs.

One champion, Marianne Ali, director of Culinary Job Training & First Helping shared her experience about overcoming her addiction with Heroin.

The author of the book, Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman also spoke at the event.

"I can’t tell you what a difference that second chance meant to me," said Kerman.  "The job gave me a sense of normalcy after my incarceration."



NYT chief’s first tweet: How to write a funeral story

Dean Baquet sent out his first tweet as executive editor of The New York Times Monday. 

He plugged a story written for the Times, but he used it as an example of how to write a story about a funeral.

The funeral service was for 6-year-old Prince Joshua Avitto, or P.J.

A week ago, P.J. and his best friend took the elevator of their East New York building to grab Icees after playing in the sun. Both boys were attacked, stabbed again and again by a man with a history of violence and psychiatric problems who had just been released from prison.

P.J. died. His friend survived, but remains in the hospital recovering from his 16 stab wounds. 

Police arrested Daniel St. Hubert, the man they believe responsible for the crime, on Wednesday. 

Here’s the tweet, followed by a section of the piece and a link to the article in full. It’s worth the read.

"On an implacably sunny morning in eastern Brooklyn, hundreds of people mourned a death much too young and much too abhorrent.

They were people who knew him, but mostly people who did not. That did not matter. They had heard, as most had heard, and so they came in their good clothes because they wanted to and because they felt they had to. On Friday morning, they came to grieve Prince Joshua Avitto, a 6-year-old Brooklyn boy known as P.J. who had barely tasted a life and who died for no plausible reason.”

The story was written by N.R., “Sonny,” Kleinfeld.




Perhaps if we could all be brighter or play ball, we could beat student debt

Whether it is academic or athletic…it’s a select few who achieve a ‘full ride’ for college, President Obama had both in mind today.

In addition to celebrating the University of Connecticut NCAA Women and Men’s basketball championships, President Obama announced changes to student loans with the intention to alleviate the weight of debt so that it won’t keep students from getting ahead.

According to American Student Assistance and the Federal Reserve, there are about 37 million student borrowers with outstanding student loans.  Today, the White House relayed that national student debt has mounted to more than $1 trillion. Some people are carrying six figures of debt, many more incur in tens of thousands of dollars.

The Executive Order signed today proposes a “Pay as You Earn” (PAYE) repayment program that would cap payments on student debt at 10 percent of monthly income and possible forgiveness after 20 years of timely payments. 

According to Pew Research debt-to-income ratios have increased dramatically during the past 30 years.

student debtor debt to income ratios

But the heightened investment hasn’t kept up with the value:

student debt financial satisfaction

The weight of student debt leads to some dropping out before they finish school, buying a house and even some from starting families:

The executive order signed today is the President’s attempt to give students a swing at getting ahead financially and moving their lives forward.  Without the executive order, it would likely be impossible that a bill taking the same actions would ever pass congress at this time.

Go figure. 

Tomorrow, June 10, the President will answer questions about student debt, live on Tumblr, at 4 p.m. Eastern.




News Literacy

Today we were thrilled to welcome Mark Hallett, senior program officer at the McCormick Foundation, to the newsroom. Mark is working on a project about news literacy and interviewed our reporters Homa Bash, John Kuhn and Emily Nelson.

Here’s Homa, discussing what news literacy means to her:



Why reporting is so cool


The coolest thing about reporting is when you’re on a story takes you places you wouldn’t have otherwise imagined going to, when questions lead you to people who you know you won’t forget. 

That happened Thursday.

Elissa Nadworny and I had the chance to travel to California to research a story on antibiotic use in cattle, thanks to Medill D.C.’s travel budget.

We flew into Sacramento Tuesday night, and then spent Wednesday and Thursday visiting ranches and ranchers throughout the Sacramento Valley.

Our final stop was the Van Vleck Ranch, a swath of rolling golden pasture in Eastern Sacramento Valley that’s been owned by the family since 1915.

We spent time with Jerry Spencer, who manages the cattle that roam the Van Vleck’s 5,000 acres. After an hour or so, Spencer introduced us to Bud Turner and his wife, Lynn Van Vleck-Turner, stepparents of Stan Van Vleck, a Sacramento lawyer, who is president of the ranch now.


(Photo: Elissa Nadworny)

Lynn was married to Stan’s father before he passed away in a helicopter crash on the ranch property, and Bud was married to Stan’s mother before she died of cancer. They now live together in a quaint brick home in the middle of the pasture.

Lynn and Bud both had to deal with tragic deaths, but they have an air of wonder that, mixed with their welcoming laughter, make you shrug your shoulders at the way life sometimes works out. 

We chatted for about a half hour before Elissa asked if she could take their portrait. They agreed. And afterward we spent another hour talking. Then we exchanged contact information and left.

When we were about a mile down the road, however, Elissa got a phone call. It was Lynn, wondering if we’d like to go for a tour of the area in Bud’s airplane.

Of course we would!

From the long gravel path to their home we caught a glimpse of Bud - who’s 81 - swinging open the door to a barn next to their house. He pushed the prop plane out with ease, grinning. 

I shrugged my shoulders, smiled and hopped into the back seat, right behind Bud, who fired up the propeller. We were off. Elissa took the next ride.

Below are some pictures and a short video that prove the point — life is cool, and so is journalism. 





John Kuhn, Medill News Service



Wednesday, May 21: Just another hump day? Think not!

Amelia Earhart:  Photo courtesy of the Museum of Flight

Just when you thought today was just another hump day, your bridge to the second half of the week, you would be surprised at some of the things that occurred on this day in history. According to

On this date:

In 1881, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.

In 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh landed his Spirit of St. Louis near Paris, completing the first solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 33 1/2 hours.

In 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean as she landed in Northern Ireland, about 15 hours after leaving Newfoundland.

In 1956, the United States exploded the first airborne hydrogen bomb over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific…

Outside of the founding of the Red Cross, there is a common theme of flying.  So take flight… because anything can happen and you’ve got the rest of today to make it count!   

Don’t get strep throat, and Happy birthday to the following:

The Associated Press cites celebrity birthdays for May 21: Rhythm-and-blues singer Ron Isley (The Isley Brothers) is 73. Rock musician Hilton Valentine (The Animals) is 71. Actor Richard Hatch is 69. Musician Bill Champlin is 67. Singer Leo Sayer is 66. Actress Carol Potter is 66. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is 63. Actor Mr. T is 62. Music producer Stan Lynch i 59. Actor Judge Reinhold is 57.