Everybody's talking about the new iPhones. But there's another phone that is getting some buzz too. It's called Phone Blocks -- think of a customizable smartphone made of Legos. So far it's just an idea, but check out the video to get a glimpse.
College football is back in season. And with it, a new scandal. This time at Oklahoma State University. Sports Illustrated is out with an investigation alleging that -- for at least a decade -- OSU football players accepted cash and bogus jobs from boosters of the team. The university says it’s investigating.
The word “booster” seems a bit of an understatement these days, given just how much universities rely on these deep-pocketed fans. At big-time sports schools, boosters help pay for everything from scholarships and team travel to multi-million dollar stadiums. Managing these generous super-fans can be problematic, says Charles Clotfelter, a professor at Duke University and author of the book "Big-Time Sports in American Universities."
“It’s very hard to control people who are not on your payroll, whom you can’t command,” says Clotfelter. “A good university has to be on the ready to shield itself from boosters who want to have the university’s team win at any cost.”
There are steps schools can take, he says -- like keeping boosters out of the locker room. That’s where some fat envelopes were allegedly handed out at Oklahoma State. But any time big donors help bankroll athletics -- or academics -- it raises questions, says Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sport management at Drexel University.
“Are we selling off the value system of higher education each time we enter into these kinds of agreements?” she says.
Staurowsky says the underground economy in college sports wouldn’t exist if players were fairly compensated to begin with. A “full” scholarship, she says, can fall $3,500 to $5,000 short of the full cost of college.
Former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma started the National College Players Association after a teammate was suspended for accepting groceries from an agent.
“I just question how it is that players can generate so much money, and yet even the basic necessities can be hard to get,” Huma says. “It just doesn’t seem right.”
An NCAA proposal to add a $2,000 stipend for athlete expenses has been delayed.
Some of the biggest boosters in college athletics:
John "Thunder" Thornton, University of Tennessee, Residential Developer -- Donated more than $1 million
Don Leebern, University of Georgia, CEO of Georgia Crown Distributing Company -- Donated more than $7 million
Paterno Family, Penn State University, Penn State Athletics -- Donated more than $9 million
Paul Bryant Jr., University of Alabama, Businessman and Former President of the Greene Group -- Donated more than $10 million
Bobby Lowder, Auburn University, Former CEO of Colonial Bank -- Donated more than $20 million
Laurie Family, University of Missouri, Husband of Wal-Mart's Nancy Walton -- Donated more than $25 million
Joe Jamail Jr., University of Texas, Personal Injury Lawyer -- Donated more than $30 million
Gaylord Family, University of Oklahoma, Fomer Owners of The Oklalahoman -- Donated more than $50 million
Paul Tudor Jones II, University of Virginia, Founder of Tudor Investment Corporation -- Donated more than $100 million
Terry Pegula, Penn State University, Founder of East Resources -- Donated more than $103 million
Phil Knight, University of Oregon, Co-Founder of Nike -- Donated more than $300 million
T. Boone Pickens, Oklahoma State University, Chair of BP Capital Management-- Donated more than $400 million
Anybody who wants to build anything big in California has to deal with CEQA. That’s short for the California Environmental Quality Act. It’s a landmark law designed to block development that hurts the environment.
Now, however, Californians are debating changes to the 43-year-old law. Business groups in California have griped for years about the hoops developers have to jump through to meet CEQA’s requirements. They complain it hampers development and jobs and say the law is commonly abused. Everybody from labor unions to rival developers to NIMBY’s have exploited CEQA to stop projects or extract concessions, they say.
Democratic Governor Jerry Brown agrees the law doesn’t work as intended and has called a CEQA overhaul “the Lord’s work.” Even some of California’s passionate environmentalists want changes. “Our view has been there are things that can be made better,” says David Pettit of the Natural Resources Defense Council in Southern California.
The NRDC has been working with California legislators to “update” the law. Pettit says, for one, they want to make it harder for NIMBY’s who use CEQA to block the kind of urban development that promotes walking and biking instead of cars. Pettit also says CEQA has been used to block urban mass transit. Residents in a tony Los Angeles neighborhood tried to use CEQA to block construction of light rail near their homes.
Some worry that business groups in California just want to gut CEQA. Shiloh Ballard at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group says that’s not their intention. She says they just don’t want developers intimidated by the mere threat of a CEQA lawsuit.
She cites a builder in over-priced Palo Alto who ended up building only 50 affordable housing units instead of 100. “And that was before the process even got started,” says Ballard. “Simply because they looked at the tea leaves and said, you know what? We don’t want to deal with the headaches. We don’t want to deal with the financial risk.”
It’s not clear whether the California legislature will actually pass any changes to the law before it adjourns on Friday. The Sierra Club’s Kathryn Phillips says lawmakers need to tread carefully. CEQA has done a lot of good in California, says Phillips. She says the law helped L.A.’s huge port complex become one of the greenest in the country when it comes to diesel emissions, for one.
CEQA is “a process,” says Phillips. It makes developers “reduce their air pollution, their impacts on water and other natural resources as much as feasible" and she doesn’t want that to change.
Take yourself back to 1913. The robber barons had accumulated vast fortunes. They didn’t have to work, but they did have to start paying income taxes that year. A new study from Berkeley and the Paris School of Economics analyzed tax returns for the past hundred years and found that more of today’s uber rich are working stiffs.
“Now the typical one percenter might be running a company and earning a lot of salary instead of just earning the returns on capital,” says Austin Nichols, an economist at the Urban Institute.
So how are the rest of us affected when more one percenters work? Does more of their wealth trickle down? There are a few theories on that. Gary Burtless has one. He’s an economist at the Brookings Institution. He says there’s no trickle down, and during tough times, companies may cut back so they can keep paying their working rich CEOs.
“They want to protect the high incomes and wages of their key officers," Burtless says. "And they may do so at the expense of workers who are less well paid.”
But, things are different if you’re talking about a creative entrepreneur who made it rich, and is still innovating. According to Harry Holzer, who teaches public policy at Georgetown. “Companies that are innovating a lot -- they often do create a lot of jobs compared to companies that are just standing still,” Holzer says. But there's a catch. Those jobs may be overseas.
A year ago four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, were killed. Now, according to news reports, U.S. investigators still don't know as much as they wish about the attackers and the Libyan government has blocked efforts to arrest some suspects.