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Investigative Reporting

Real pieces of work

| Sunday, July 3, 2011

The BBC has developed a computer program allowing Internet users to reduce the volume of player grunts and screams at Wimbledon while increasing the volume of the commentary. Some of the grunts of Maria Sharapova, for example, top 100 decibels, reports say.

Given the political grunts and screams of President Barack Obama during last Wednesday's news conference, maybe the BBC device could be employed for future presidential intemperance. ...

Government intervention in markets usually has the exact opposite effect of what the government interventionist intended. Witness oil.

Last month, the Obama administration tapped America's strategic oil supplies supposedly to help counter the loss of Libyan crude and, supposedly, to drop gasoline prices.

Oil and gas prices were on a downward curve before that. But crude prices are rising again, including futures contracts. Why• The market knows that the United States will have to buy 30 million barrels of oil -- and other countries 30 million more -- to replace what was incoherently dribbled into the supply chain.

One perversion begets another. ...

What a great scam Pennsylvania's colleges and universities have going.

For decades, they've used public subsidies (then thrown hissy fits when the public wanted an accounting of the money) as cover to repeatedly raise tuition far in excess of inflation.

And now that tough budget times have befallen the commonwealth, they're using reductions in those subsidies to jack up tuition even more.

So much for the Age of Austerity. ...

All of this higher-education higher spending, though, might just be coming back to slap Penn State and Pitt.

The U.S. Department of Education ranks them No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, for the highest tuition cost of four-year public colleges in the nation.

Sounds like a great marketing tool.

True to form, Pitt blames "the commonwealth's de-emphasis on higher-education funding during the past decade."

Pitt and Penn State might fancy themselves as too big to fail. Look for the education market to make that decision for them. ...

The president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Jim Testerman, says that the fiscal 2012 budget just signed by Gov. Tom Corbett, which includes $860 million in cuts to K-12 public education, will cause students, their families and local taxpayers to "feel the pain."

As if students, their families and local taxpayers haven't been feeling the pain of the educratic establishment for far too long. Nearly half of all public-school teacher strikes in the nation occur in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Corbett should send Mr. Testerman a little note: "Ready to act like the 'professionals' you claim you are?" ...

Bill Brooks, president of Pittsburgh Building Trades, praises U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy for the congressman's latest sop to organized labor.

The Upper St. Clair Demolican voted to eliminate a provision that would have stripped cost-raising and discriminatory provisions such as "project labor agreements" (PLAs) from federal contracts. Mr. Brooks likens PLAs to a "market-based" tool that protects "community standards."

My, what an inventive way to describe extortion. And talk about knowing an obscenity when it's seen.

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