SUNY New Paltz is number one—in on-campus drug arrests. An analysis by Project Know using data from the Department of Education found that SUNY New Paltz led the country in college drug arrests in 2013, with a total of 105 collars. Of the colleges with the highest drug arrest rates, four were SUNY schools: New Paltz, Oswego (2nd), Oneonta (6th), and Plattsburgh (7th). In 2012, SUNY New Paltz ranked only 107th, with 24 total arrests. SUNY school officials attribute the suddenly high figure to their campus police. Most campuses around the country rely on local law enforcement. New Paltz spokeswoman Melissa Kaczmarek referred to New Paltz's strict zero-tolerance drug policy in a statement, justifying the number one rank with the low recidivism rate among offenders.
Sources: Huffington Post, Daily Freeman
President Obama announced a new set of rules this February that restrict the amount of data the National Security Agency (NSA) collects and records on American citizens and foreigners. Phone conversations by American citizens that aren't "relevant to foreign intelligence" must be immediately deleted, while those by foreigners may be held up for up to five years, according to the new regulations. In addition to the stricter data regulations, President Obama will also institutionalize regulated White House-led reviews of monitoring on foreign officials by the NSA. The rules allow foreigners to block misused private information shared by a foreign government with American law enforcement agencies, though conversations swept up by the NSA won't be admissible in court.
Source: New York Times
The world's largest solar plant is open and operating in Southern California. Constructed by First Solar, the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight project generates enough electricity to power 160,000 California homes thanks to a $1.5 billion federal grant from the Department of Energy. The project's solar panels cover 3,800 acres near Joshua Tree National Park. According to David Hochschild, a member of the California Energy Commission, California has installed more renewable energy than any other state in the country. By 2020, California's three major utilities plan on meeting a 33 percent renewable energy mandate. Gov. Jerry Brown would like to increase that figure to 50 percent by 2030.
Source: USA Today
Christmas came a few months late to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and Brooks Memorial Library when one man's will was settled this month. Ronald Read, lifetime resident of Windham County, left nearly $8 million to the local library and hospital. Read's close friends and family members had no idea he was a multimillionaire, a mystery maintained by his quiet, frugal lifestyle. According to Read's stepson, the only clue to Read's financial status was his daily habit of reading the Wall Street Journal. The $1.2 million gift to the library is twice that of its endowment of $600,000, and will be used for capital projects and extended library hours. The $4.8 million donation to the hospital is still being discussed, but Gina Patterson, the director of development and marketing, says the money will go toward infrastructure improvements and capital projects. The donations are the single largest gifts ever received by the institutions.
Source: Brattleboro Reformer
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced in February his plans to pay back Greece's $25 billion debt that may result in the country being forced out of the eurozone. Tsipras says they will cut exorbitant government amenities and prioritize humanitarian issues over Greece's financial crisis. In lieu of an extension on the country's bailout debt, Tsipras is seeking a bridge program to tide the country over between the prime minister's promises to the electorate and the eventual reimbursement of the more than $300 billion international creditors have lent Greece over its years of austerity. Tsipras plans include selling half of all government limousines and a government jet, cutting back on security, putting a freeze on pension cuts, restoring Greek public broadcast television, implementing a property tax overhaul, providing free electricity to those who've been cut off, reinstating jobs that have been cut, and raising minimum wage.
Sources: The Guardian (US), BBC News
At least they're confident. Fusion's Massive Millennial Poll found that although 46 percent of millennials live at home with their parents and 60 percent are in debt, 70 percent expect to be millionaires in their lifetimes. The poll, which surveyed 1,200 likely voters aged 18 to 34 during the 2014 midterm elections, also found that only 4 percent of millennial voters think climate change is the most important issue facing the United States; the majority of those surveyed believe that the economy, debt and spending, and terrorism are of greater concern. Other findings include that 84 percent of millennials think marijuana should be legal for medicinal purposes and 68 percent support gay marriage.
A private political network run by Charles G. and David H. Koch of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the country, plans to spend $900 million on the 2016 campaign, giving them as much monetary influence on the presidential race as the Republican or Democratic parties. The Kochs' conservative network consists of a number of political groups that advocate their personal conservative views, like smaller government, deregulation, tax cuts, and abolishing campaign disclosure laws. The entities that make up the Kochs' network are mostly nonprofits protected by nondisclosure laws for donors, making it difficult to tell the amount of money invested by the Koch brothers or the 300 donors they've recruited over time.
Sources: New York Times, Desert Sun
A Superior Court judge in New Jersey found a counseling group, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (Jonah), guilty of consumer fraud for selling conversion therapy to cure homosexuality in a pretrial hearing. The judge, Peter F. Bariso Jr., wrote that homosexuality was not a disorder, but a "normal variation of human sexuality." He also cited use of "success" figures in advertising "when there is no factual basis for calculating such statistics" as fraudulent, though didn't mention whether or not Jonah had done so. In another pretrial hearing, he disqualified five of Jonah's expert witnesses because their supposed expertise was based on homosexuality as a sickness. Only New Jersey, California, and Washington D.C., currently prohibit licensed medical professionals from performing conversion therapy on young people.
Source: New York Times
Compiled by Kelly Seiz