Is College Worth It? Further Highlights How Federal Money Damages Students, Universities, Society

It’s no secret that the value of a college education is — and has been for some time — on a downward slide, but that isn’t stopping thousands of young Americans from taking on mountains of student loan debt in order to earn a degree. In the new book Is College Worth It?, former Secretary of Education William Bennett and his co-author try to understand why higher education is becoming more of a burden than a boon for many Americans.

Bennett and his co-author, David Wilezol, write in a recent column for CNBC:

Many students are tempted to believe that college is no longer a value proposition for them. After all, costs have risen over 1,100% since 1978, far outpacing inflation.

Fifty percent of the class of 2011 was unemployed or dramatically underemployed. In another survey, only 16% of employers reported that new hires from four-year colleges were “very qualified” for the workforce. Academically, one study showed that only 45% of students showed any meaningful cognitive gains after three semesters. Regardless of what one considers the purpose of college to be, it is clear that costly dysfunction is plaguing the system.

With such dismal outcomes across the board, is college still worth it?

The authors contend that higher education may still be a good option for many students, but only if institutions work to fix “massive inefficiencies” in the education system.

First, the authors say, colleges must end the “academic arms race” by doing away with over-the-top amenities on campuses that provide little or no benefit to students’ education.

They write:

As a result of increased revenue campuses often are furnished with extravagant amenities like rock-climbing walls, hot tubs and apartment-style dorms. Boston University even has a “lazy river” inner-tube ride for students. These are nice creature comforts, but ones that are ultimately unessential to the mission of educating students. These, too, are designed to attract the wealthiest students.

Another important aspect of revitalizing the value of college is cutting back on the “superabundance of personnel who manage campus life and ideology but contribute little to student learning,” contend Bennett and Wilezol. They believe that colleges could vastly cut costs to students by doing away with employees whose sole purposes are fundraising, overseeing diversity programs or researching without teaching.

A recurring theme presented in Is College Worth It?: Because colleges have access to too many Federal dollars and are incentivized to chase those dollars, the very programs designed to make college more accessible for Americans have an inflationary result, driving up the price of college. Meanwhile, the value of a degree falls. That is to say, colleges are spending money to chase money and the students are left behind.

But the authors of Is College Worth It? are certainly not the first to point this out. Consider what Scripps University assistant economics professor Sean Flynn recently said about academia’s big spending addiction: “The scariest number I’ve seen is that in the Cal State system between 1970 and 2008… the number of faculty only went up 3 percent, but the number of administrators went up 237 percent. The entire educational system has had massive amounts of money thrown at it and most of it has gone to things that have not improved the actual educational outcomes.”

And in December 2010, writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Richard Vedder, the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, penned an article entitled “The Great College-Degree Scam.” In his work, Vedder essentially concedes that the government push for higher education has saturated the job market and forced more graduate and post graduate degree holders to take jobs for which they are overqualified and/or underpaid.

“…[T]he push to increase the number of college graduates seems horribly misguided from a strict economic/vocational perspective. It is precisely that perspective that is emphasized by those, starting with President Obama, who insist that we need to have more college graduates,” Vedder writes.

He goes on to explain that degrees are becoming little more than screening tools for employers later in the piece, “…[C]redential inflation arises from a perceived need by individuals to demonstrate potential employment competence through a piece of paper, i.e. a college diploma. Employers are using education as a screening and signaling device, at a low cost directly to them (although not costless because of the taxes they pay to sustain much of this), but at a high cost to the prospective employees and to society as a whole.”

Many people employed in academia suffer a sort of cognitive dissonance that disallows them to see what harm could come from making campuses live up to ivory expectations and hiring massive administrative staffs to recruit students who may or may not belong in college, but have access to fistfuls of Federal money. But in Is College Worth It?, the authors, both of whom are members of the academic community, admonish that America’s institutions of higher learning will likely destroy academia with an addiction to Federal funds: “If traditional higher education wants to retain its prestige, its historical significance, and its students, it should re-establish a college education that serves the heart, the mind and the checkbook. If it doesn’t, the future of higher education may move on without it.”

Government Too Powerful…Duh, Potentially Lying Holder Shopped For Judges, Military 3D Guns, And A Transsexual Superhero For Children: Tuesday P.M. Edition Links 5-28-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

Majority Of Americans: Government Too Powerful

According to Gallup polling results, since 2005 at least half of all Americans have believed that the Nation’s government is far too powerful. Read More…

‘Judge Shopping’ AG Holder Spurned By Two Judges Before Third Granted Secret Subpoena Warrant

When U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder decided to unleash the hounds on FOX News reporter James Rosen, he had Ronald Machen, U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., go looking for a court order to obtain a warrant that would allow the Department of Justice to subpoena Rosen’s communications without the reporter or his employer ever knowing about it. Read More…

3-D Printing The Military/Industrial Complex

While the Federal government is doing everything it can to curtail civilians from using 3-D printing technology to manufacture firearms by doing things like shutting down Defense Distributed, a nonprofit company started by a University of Texas law student, which has successfully made and fired a 3-D gun, the military could soon move forward with the technology in big ways. Read More…

House Judiciary Committee Investigates Whether AG Holder Lied Under Oath

The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is investigating testimony Attorney General Eric gave May 15 concerning his Department’s role in the Associated Press secret surveillance scandal. Read More…

In New Children’s Show: Little Boy Dresses Like Little Girl, Saves World

The gender-bending main character of a new children’s show on the Hub network — co-owned by Hasbro and Discovery — is both a prepubescent boy who, at times, is magically transformed into a female superhero by placing a ring on his, err her, finger. Video…

Majority Of Americans: Government Too Powerful

According to Gallup polling results, since 2005 at least half of all Americans have believed that the Nation’s government is far too powerful.

As the recent gamut of government scandals continues to ride the headlines, the pooling agency reports that 54 percent of Americans believe that the Federal government has too much power. The number is only slightly higher than the result from the same poll last year, and is actually lower than the number of Americans worried about government power in 2010 and 2011.

From Gallup:

Americans’ views of federal power have become a renewed focal point in recent weeks with allegations that the IRS used its power to selectively audit certain types of organizations, and news reports of Justice Department investigations into Associated Press and Fox News records and emails. It does not appear, however, that these news stories have dramatically altered Americans’ views of the federal government’s power. The 54% who now say the federal government has “too much power” is in the same general range as it has been since 2005.

Only 8% of Americans say the federal government has “too little” power, while 36% say the government has about the right amount of power.

As would be expected, there is a major gulf between Republicans’ and Democrats’ views on this issue. More than twice as many Republicans (76%) as Democrats (32%) say the government has too much power, with a majority of independents coming down on the same side as Republicans.

‘Judge Shopping’ AG Holder Spurned By Two Judges Before Third Granted Secret Subpoena Warrant

When U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder decided to unleash the hounds on FOX News reporter James Rosen, he had Ronald Machen, U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., go looking for a court order to obtain a warrant that would allow the Department of Justice to subpoena Rosen’s communications without the reporter or his employer ever knowing about it.

Machen was shot down by Judge John M. Facciola, who noted “[T]he subscriber therefore will never know, by being provided a copy of the warrant, for example, that the government secured a warrant and searched the contents of her email account.”

All the DOJ had to do to get the warrant approved was to let the subject — in this case, Rosen — know that a warrant to subpoena his communications records was being served. But then, that wouldn’t have been much of a secret, and the DOJ would have lost its ability to indefinitely monitor Rosen’s records without detection.

So the DOJ went judge shopping, according to an investigation by Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker. Even though two judges had ruled a secret subpoena wasn’t legal, Machen appealed and got Royce C. Lamberth, chief judge in Federal District Court for Washington, D.C., to reverse those decisions.

Incidentally, Lamberth apologized last week for not making records of the Court’s communication with the DOJ public for a full 18 months — an apology that, of course, came only after the Rosen scandal had broken.

At any rate, how can the DOJ, which answers to President Barack Obama, claim it knew of nothing out of the ordinary in the Rosen case? It had to go to extraordinary measures to get the legal permission it needed to monitor a reporter without his knowledge and without a window of time to limit the reach of the secret investigation.

3-D Printing The Military/Industrial Complex

While the Federal government is doing everything it can to curtail civilians from using 3-D printing technology to manufacture firearms by doing things like shutting down Defense Distributed, a nonprofit company started by a University of Texas law student, which has successfully made and fired a 3-D gun, the military could soon move forward with the technology in big ways.

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Llenza writes in a recent commentary for Armed Forces Journal that Navy ships should use 3-D printing to become floating munitions factories.

He writes:

As Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Neil Gershenfeld puts it, the revolutionary aspect of 3-D printing is that it allows us to make things into data and data back into things. For the Navy, the technology promises to shift inventory from the physical world to the digital one. Instead of actual parts, a ship might carry 3-D printers and bags of various powdered ingredients, and simply download the design files needed to print items as necessary.

Certainly, today’s ships and subs are not going to make everything they need on board, although it is tempting to imagine better uses for freed-up storage spaces. Today’s printers are generally limited to printing parts made of just one material, and variance is a big issue. But the development of multiple-material devices is well underway, and the technology is racing ahead. Perhaps closer at hand is a distributed global production network in which sailors and Marines send an email with a digital scan or design for a part they need and have it created at the nearest certified printer. Thinking bigger, the fleet might convert some Military Sealift Command ships into floating factories that can take print-on-demand orders from the battlegroup.

The things that might be ordered go far beyond mere parts. Several university labs and at least one defense contractor have turned out UAVs comprised entirely of printed parts, excepting the motor and electronics.

While there is still a great deal of research and development to be done, it looks as though 3-D printing will become a big part of America’s military/industrial complex. The question of whether the ability to produce weapons will be used by the government to keep 3-D printing out of civilian hands remains unanswered.

Speaking Loudly, Clearly May Help Others Concentrate

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, England (UPI) — British researchers say people can help others focus or concentrate by speaking more loudly or more clearly.

Lead author Alex Thiele, professor of Visual Neuroscience at Newcastle University in England, said by changing the way neurons respond to external stimuli people could improve their perceptual abilities.

While these changes could affect the strength of a neuronal response, they could also affect the fidelity of that response, Thiele said.

“When you communicate with others, you can make yourself better heard by speaking louder or by speaking more clearly. Neurons appear to do similar things when we’re paying attention. They send their message more intensely to their partners, which compares to speaking louder. But more importantly, they also increase the fidelity of their message, which compares to speaking more clearly,” Thiele said in a statement.

“Our earlier work has shown that attention is able to affect the intensity of responses — in effect the loudness — by means of the brain chemical acetylcholine. Now we have shown that the fidelity of the response is altered by a different brain chemical system.”

Thiele’s team revealed the quality of the response was altered by means of glutamate coupling to NMDA receptors — a molecular device that mediates communication between neurons. Carried out in a primate model, these studies for the first time isolated different attention mechanisms, Thiele said.

Adult Day Services For Dementia Patients Help Caregivers

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (UPI) — Family caregivers of the elderly with dementia are less stressed on days dementia patients receive adult day services, U.S. researchers say.

Steven Zarit, professor and head of human development and family studies at Pennsylvania State University, conducted eight daily telephone interviews on consecutive days with 173 family caregivers of individuals with dementia who use an ADS — a service that is designed to provide social and some health services to adults who need supervised care outside the home during the day.

On some of the interview days, the individuals with dementia attended an ADS program. On other days they were with the caregiver most or all of the time.

In the daily interviews, the researchers asked the caregivers about the stressors and positive events they had been exposed to, as well as their mood and health symptoms during the day.

The research team then used multi-level statistical models to analyze the results of the telephone interviews.

The study, published in The Gerontologist, found caregivers had lower exposure to care-related stressors and more positive experiences on days when their family members with dementia used ADS. On these days, caregivers also were exposed to more non-care stressors. Yet the overall effect of the use of adult day services on caregivers was lowered anger and reduced impact of non-care stressors on depressive symptoms, the study said.

U.S.: 10 People Drown Each Day

ATLANTA (UPI) — Every day, 10 people in the United States drown, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.

From 2005-09, there were an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional U.S. non-boating related drownings annually, or about 10 deaths per day. An additional 347 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.

For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for non-fatal submersion injuries, the CDC says.

More than 50 percent of drowning victims treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or transfer for further care. These non-fatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning such as a permanent vegetative state, the CDC says.

Nearly 80 percent of those who die from drowning are male. Children ages 1-4 have the highest drowning rates — most drownings occur in home swimming pools.

The main factors that affect drowning risk are lack of swimming ability, lack of barriers to prevent unsupervised water access, lack of close supervision while swimming, location, failure to wear life jackets, alcohol use and seizure disorders.

More Than 100 Studies Show Link Of Pesticides And Parkinson’s

PAVIA, Italy (UPI) — A meta-analysis of more than 100 studies shows pesticide, herbicide and solvent exposure is linked to a higher risk of Parkinson’s, researchers in Italy say.

Study author Dr. Emanuele Cereda of IRCCS University Hospital San Matteo Foundation in Pavia, Italy, and Dr. Gianni Pezzoli of the Parkinson Institute — ICP, Milan, Italy, reviewed 104 studies on exposure to weed, fungus, rodent, bug killers and solvents and the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Studies that evaluated the proximity of exposure, such as country living, work occupation and well water drinking were also included.

The research, published in the journal Neurology, found exposure to bug killers, weed killers and solvents increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 33 percent to 80 percent.

In controlled studies, exposure to the weed killer paraquat or the fungicides maneb and mancozeb was associated with two times the risk of developing the disease, Cereda said.

“We didn’t study whether the type of exposure, such as whether the compound was inhaled or absorbed through the skin and the method of application, such as spraying or mixing, affected Parkinson’s risk,” Cereda said in a statement. “However, our study suggests that the risk increases in a dose response manner as the length of exposure to these chemicals increases.”

Colorado Reports Surge In Children Eating Pot-Laced Foods

AURORA, Colo. (UPI) — There has been a spike in young children treated for accidentally eating marijuana-laced food since the relaxation of Colorado marijuana laws, researchers say.

“We have seen an increase in unintentional ingestion of marijuana by children since the modification of drugs laws in Colorado,” lead author Dr. George Wang, clinical instructor in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said in a statement. “We need to educate marijuana users, the community and medical professionals about the potential dangers.”

Wang and colleagues compared the number of young children treated at the Children’s Hospital Colorado emergency department for ingesting marijuana — via cookies, candies, brownies and beverages — before and after the modification of Colorado’s drug laws beginning in 2009. The researchers used data from Jan. 1, 2005, through Dec. 31, 2011.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said the number of children treated for exposure to marijuana before Sept. 30, 2009, was zero. The number after Oct. 1, 2009, was 14 with eight directly from consuming marijuana food products.

Children who ingested the drug exhibited symptoms that included respiratory problems, extreme sleepiness, difficulty in walking and lethargy. Many underwent a battery of expensive tests to diagnose their problem because the history of exposure wasn’t given, or medical professionals were not familiar with marijuana causing these symptoms, Wang said.

Today’s marijuana is much stronger than in the past and these products can contain higher concentrations of the active ingredient THC, Wang said.

Gallup: In U.S. Private Sector, Older Workers Better Utilized

WASHINGTON (UPI) — In the U.S. non-federal sector, older workers are more likely than  younger counterparts to report being able to put their best skills to use, a survey says.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index involving 115,000 U.S. adults — including 8,000 who identified themselves as federal workers — was conducted Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2012.

About 85 percent of full-time federal government workers age 18-29 said they get to use their strengths at work every day to do what they do best — versus 77 percent of federal workers age 65 and older.

For other U.S. workers, 82 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they use their strengths in their work compared with 86 percent of those age 65 and older, the survey said.

The federal government could do more to help its older workers use their strengths at work, Gallup said. It could structure positions and train supervisors to get the most out of their employees by discovering and maximizing their employees’ strengths, the polling firm suggested.

Gallup research has shown that if a supervisor focuses on employees’ strengths, only 1 percent of employees are actively disengaged at work. Otherwise, if a manager focuses on weaknesses, 22 percent, on average, are actively disengaged. Underutilized employees not only hurt work outcomes, but have have significant financial implications, Gallup said.

The survey has a margin of error of 1 percentage point.

U.S. Only Advanced Economy With No Guaranteed Paid Vacation

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The United States is the only country among advanced economies that does not require employers to provide paid vacation time, a non-profit group says.

A report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington reviewed data from a range of national and international sources on the legal requirements for paid vacations and paid holidays in 21 rich countries — 16 European countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.

The group found European countries require private companies to give at least 20 days of paid vacation per year, with legal requirements of 25 and even 30 or more days in some countries.

Australia and New Zealand both require employers to grant at least 20 vacation days per year; Canada and Japan mandate at least 10 paid days off.

In addition, most of the rest of the world’s rich countries offer at least six paid holidays per year. Since the United States requires no paid vacation or paid holidays almost one in four Americans — 23 percent — don’t get any.

The average worker in the private sector in the United States receives only about 10 days of paid vacation and about six paid holidays per year, which is less than the minimum legal standard set in the rest of world’s rich economies excluding Japan, which guarantees only 10 paid vacation days and requires no paid holidays.

Several foreign countries offer additional time off for younger and older workers, shift workers and those engaged in community service, including jury duty.

Five countries even mandate employers pay vacationing workers a small premium above their standard pay in order to help pay for vacation-related expenses, the report said.

U.S. Postal Service Finances Remain Wobbly

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Two lawmakers — an independent and a Democrat — are sponsoring bills to eliminate a financial mandate that some say is threatening the U.S. Postal Service.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., and U.S. Rep. Peter A. Defazio, D-Ore., are attempting to reverse a mandate passed into law in 2006 that requires the Postal Service to pay billions of dollars in retirement healthcare costs 50 years in advance.

The Postal Service lost $5.6 billion the year the mandate began, $5.1 billion of which was due to the pre-payment requirement, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

With the Internet stealing business from the agency and with the funding mandate in place, the Postal Service is losing $25 million each day, which added up to a $1.9 billion loss in the first quarter of the year and a loss of $15.9 billion in all of 2012, the newspaper said.

The service is a business that is controlled by Congress. As such, lawmakers are aiming to change the fundamental structure of the relationship between the service and Congress to give it more flexibility on how it runs its operation.

With the current set up, proposals that would have saved the service $6.5 billion a year and efforts to consolidate have been shot down by Congress.

“The Postal Service has far too little flexibility when it needs to adjust and it’s really in handcuffs because of all the requirements Congress puts on it,” said Mike Schuyler, an expert on the Postal Service at the Tax Foundation, a Washington think tank.

The 238-year-old agency has survived other technological advancements in communication, including the telegram, the telephone and the television but the current crisis is considered dire.

“We are in real trouble, and we need comprehensive postal reform yesterday,” Mickey Barnett, the chairman of the service’s board of governors, told a congressional panel in April.

Home Prices Hit Double-Digit Annual Increases

NEW YORK (UPI) — U.S. home prices in the first quarter posted double-digit gains over the same quarter of 2012, a closely watched private report said Tuesday.

The Standard and Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price report said its 10-city index rose 10.3 percent from January through March of 2012. Over the same period, the report’s 20-city index rose 10.9 percent.

The national composite index rose 10.2 percent over the same time period, the report said.

All 20 of the report’s monitored cities posted increases year-over-year.

From February to March, the 10-city index and the 20-city index rose 1.4 percent with five cities — Charlotte, N.C.; Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Tampa, Fla. — posting their largest month-over-month gains in five years.

“Home prices continued to climb. Home prices in all 20 cities posted annual gains for the third month in a row. Twelve of the 20 saw prices rise at double-digit annual growth. The National Index and the 10- and 20-City Composites posted their highest annual returns since 2006,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement.

In March, Phoenix posted the largest annual gain with prices up 22.5 percent. The second sharpest gain was in San Francisco at 22.2 percent, followed by Las Vegas at 20.6 percent.

Atlanta posted a gain of 19.1 percent and Detroit a gain of 18.5 percent.

The lowest gains were in New York at 2.6 percent, Cleveland at 4.8 percent and Boston at 6.7 percent.

Consumer Confidence Improved In May

NEW YORK (UPI) — U.S. consumer confidence rose for the second consecutive month in May, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The index had been trending lower, but May’s gain is third increase in the past seven months.

The index is a comparison from 1985, which was assigned the value of 100.

In May, the index rose to 76.2, up from 69 in April.

In the most recent confidence survey, 18.8 percent of respondents to a survey that involves more than 5,000 households indicated they believed business conditions were “good,” up from 17.5 percent in April.

Responses indicating a belief that business conditions were “bad” fell from 27.6 to 26 in the month.

The percentage of respondents indicating jobs were “plentiful,” rose from 9.7 percent to 10.8 percent, while those indicating jobs were difficult to get fell from 36.9 percent to 36.1.

“Consumer confidence posted another gain this month and is now at a five-year high. Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor-market conditions was more positive and they were considerably more upbeat about future economic and job prospects,” said Conference Board Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco in a statement.

Professor Who Once Had To Work At Subway Makes Math Breakthrough

DURHAM, N.H. (UPI) — A virtually unknown U.S. professor has taken a major step in solving a numerical problem that has baffled mathematicians for centuries, experts said.

Yitang Zhang, a researcher at the University of New Hampshire who once took a job a Subway because he couldn’t secure an academic appointment, has made a significant step towards settling a long-standing question about prime numbers — numbers that can only be divided by themselves and by one.

An oddity among prime numbers is that they often come as pairs known as “twin primes” separated by only two, like three and five, 11 and 13 or 18,383,549 and 18,383,551.

Mathematicians have long suspected there is an infinite number of twin primes — expressed in a theory known as the “twin prime conjecture” — but no one has ever been able to prove it.

Zhang has demonstrated no matter how large a twin prime is, there will always be another pair of primes separated from them by less than 70 million.

While not proving an infinite number of twin primes, Zhang’s work effectively proves the distance between prime pairs does not keep on increasing to an infinite size.

Members of the editorial board of the Annals of Mathematics journal, which published the work, said Zhang had published “hardly anything” before and was not regarded as a “big name” in mathematics circles.

“It’s a steady stream of papers which tends to get you jobs,” board member Richar Taylor told The Daily Telegraph. “Maybe [Zhang] likes to think about the big problems — and you don’t solve those very often.”

Working at the sandwich shop while seeking a university position “wasn’t bad,” Zhang said, but “whenever I was doing it I was thinking about maths.”

Dutch Scientists Say Food Supplement Helps With Heart Disease

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (UPI) — Scientists in Denmark said an inexpensive food supplement helped reduce heart death among patients who had previously suffered heart attacks.

The supplement, known as Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, plays a role in helping convert food into sugars that cells need to function. It is found in high levels in healthy heart tissue but studies have shown it decreases in patients who have suffered a heart attack, the Daily Telegraph said Friday.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Heart Center at Copenhagen University Hospital, said of the 420 patients included, after two years, fewer had been hospitalized for another heart-related incident after taking CoQ10 and more of those patients were alive.

“CoQ10 should be considered as a part of the maintenance therapy of patients with chronic heart failure,” said Professor Svend Mortensen, who led the study.

Original Apple-1 Computer Goes For Record $671,000 At Auction

COLOGNE, Germany (UPI) — An Apple-1 computer, which sold for $666 when it debuted in 1976, sold for a record $671,400 Saturday at auction in German, the auctioneer said.

The sale, including fees and taxes, beat the previous high mark of $640,000 paid for an Apple-1 last November at the same auction house, Auction Team Breker, The New York Times reported.

Breker said the buyer, whose name was being kept secret, was a wealthy entrepreneur from the Far East.

“This really confirms the value of Apple-1’s,” auctioneer Uwe Breker told the Times.

“It is a superb symbol of the American dream. You have two college dropouts from California who pursued an idea and a dream, and that dream becomes one of the most admired, successful and valuable companies in the world.”

There were an estimated 175-200 of the computers built in a garage by Steven Jobs and Stephen Wozniak in the first run and 46 survive, said Mike Willegal, who keeps track of them on an online registry.

The one sold at auction Saturday was originally owned by Fred Hatfield, 84, a retired electrical engineer living in New Orleans, the Times said.

Hatfield said he sold the computer, which wasn’t working at the time, to a man from Texas this year for $40,000. The newspaper said it was a working model when auctioned.

Hatfield expressed surprise at the sale price but congratulated the man who bought it from him.

“Best to him. He’s the one who fixed it up and figured the best way to sell it for all that money. Evidently, he’s very good at this,” Hatfield said.

House Judiciary Committee Investigates Whether AG Holder Lied Under Oath

The Hill is reporting that the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is investigating testimony Attorney General Eric gave May 15 concerning his Department’s role in the Associated Press secret surveillance scandal.

Specifically, the committee is looking into the veracity of Holder’s claim, under oath, that he’s “never been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy” for the Department of Justice to target any member of the press who refuses to disclose sources.

But the report notes:

However, NBC News reported last week that Holder personally approved a search warrant that labeled Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen a co-conspirator in a national security leaks case.

The panel is investigating whether NBC’s report contradicts Holder’s claim that he had not looked into or been involved with a possible prosecution of the press in a leaks case.

Interestingly, news of the DOJ’s targeting of Rosen (and even his parents) hadn’t broken at the time Holder gave his AP testimony, highlighting another seemingly recurring characteristic of the Administration of President Barack Obama: the time to be sorry about lying to cover your tracks should come only once you get caught doing it.

In New Children’s Show: Little Boy Dresses Like Little Girl, Saves World

The gender-bending main character of a new children’s show on the Hub network — co-owned by Hasbro and Discovery — is both a prepubescent boy who, at times, is magically transformed into a female superhero by placing a ring on his, err her, finger.

“When I first heard about the show, my reaction was ‘Are you out of your minds?'” Margaret Loesch, chief executive of the Hub told the Los Angeles Times. “Then I looked at it and I thought, ‘This is just funny.'”

Network executives hope the seemingly transsexual crime fighter depicted in “SheZow” will not only save the world in each episode, but will also save the networks ratings.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Launched in October 2010, the Hub has barely registered a blip in the highly competitive kids’ TV marketplace. It has a few minor successes including “My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic” and “Transformers,” but overall its ratings are tiny. Among kids 2 to 11, the Hub’s primary target, it averages 56,000 viewers a day, according to Nielsen. Disney and Nickelodeon each average 934,000 kids in that group.

Here’s a promo for the show:
 

 
It looks like the dress may become the new cape.

Court Won’t Review Planned Parenthood Case

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday let stand a lower court ruling that struck down Indiana’s ban on Medicaid funds going to Planned Parenthood.

A state law says, ” An agency of the state may not: (1) enter into a contract with; or (2) make a grant to; any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed that involves the expenditure of state funds or federal funds administered by the state.”

Medicaid is a joint state-federal program. A federal judge issued an injunction against the implementation of the law.

Eventually, a U.S. appeals court ruled that Indiana’s restriction “violates the federal law guarantee that Medicaid enrollees be given their free choice of provider.”

The high court rejected review of the case in a one line order without comment.

Several states have the same restriction on the dispersal of Medicaid funds, but the Supreme Court’s rejection sets no precedent and may not affect those laws by itself.