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Franklin Graham: San Francisco is a ‘Little Picture Of Hell’

Franklin Graham thinks places like California are a “little picture of Hell,” but fully believes that if Christians step up, they can bring it back to the way it once was.

During a recent interview, Graham called California a “sinking” state and compared San Francisco to a “little picture of Hell.”

California School District Says Parents Can’t Opt Children Out of Controversial Sex Ed Courses

Graham is currently on a 10-city tour in California in order to encourage Christians to stand up against the state’s anti-Christian laws and beliefs. Graham, who is the son of the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, calls California the “blue wall,” because of their education system, economic policies, and “sanctuary cities” throughout the state.

He set out on a “Decision America” tour in order to address constituents before the June 5 primary. During this particular tour, he has been urging Christians to not just vote, but to get up and run for public offices in the state whether it’s a senate position or a board of education position, he states it is important.

On Tuesday, during a radio interview, Graham defended his “Decision America” tour in California due to a New York Times article called “The Evangelical Fight to Win Back California.”

Graham told Todd Starnes, conservative pundit for Fox News, that the New York Times piece made him out to be on a “political crusade” and that is not his point. He refuted the article after the front page piece stated that he called for Christians to stand up against Californias “blue wall.”

In the front page piece, Graham was quoted on calling progressives “godless” and that his “Decision America” tour was a “political crusade” not a Christian event.

Graham sat down with Todd Starnes in order to discuss the contents of the article, and what was right and what was wrongly stated. He made a point to emphasis that the “Decision America” tour is an evangelical event, not a political crusade. He even stated that he isn’t pushing either party, just urging Christians to vote and get involved in politics.

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“I haven’t talked to anybody in the parties,” Graham stated. “We are staying out of the politics part of it but I do want Christians to vote and I want them to ask God before they vote, who they should vote. But, I don’t think the Christians should be silent. The Christian voice needs to be heard.”

“So, I am sure the New York Times thinks this is political,” he added. “They can think whatever they want to think. I want people to vote. That is so important that we do that and not just vote, but encourage Christians to run for office. We need Christian legislators. We need Christian mayors. We need Christians on the city council.”

Despite the fact that Graham states that he’s staying out of politics, he is fully encouraging Christians to become more involved. He said he wants to see biblically grounded Christians run for office who hold strong beliefs in social issues like abortion and family values.

“When I say Christians, I mean Christians who are willing to take a stand for biblical truth for what the Bible has to say about marriage, what the Bible has to say about the sanctity of life and are willing to stand behind God’s principles and take a bullet for that,” Graham explained. “What I mean by take a bullet is when they get criticized or attacked for their political views, that they just stand there smile and take it and not budge. We need Christians to take a stand and take a hit if need be.”

Graham also added that its important for Christians to step up because their state is “sinking” and they need to save it.

California is known for their staunch far-left beliefs, including things like LGBT and abortion issues. Graham holds opposition to this topics, but also puts an emphasis on how the states sanctuary cities and protection of undocumented immigrants are taking a tole on the state.

“People are leaving the state. The tax base is eroding. They are turning their once beautiful cities into sanctuary cities, which are just a little picture of Hell,” Graham said. “Just go to San Francisco and go to this once-beautiful city and see what has happened to it.”

Graham’s tour began on May 20, and will lead up to the state primary on June 5. Graham is going through swing districts for U.S. House of Representatives hoping that he can encourage people to get out and vote for the 2018 midterm elections coming up in November.

“I am just wanting the churches to realize that they don’t have to take this and that churches can be the voice and they can be the ones that turn the state back to God and turn it back into a beautiful state,” Graham added.

Graham is not just calling on constituents to step up, but also pastors and church leaders. He believes that pastors should be just as involved as political activists in their communities, and encourage their congregants to do the same.

“I want to see churches responsible for getting control of the education in their state through the school boards,” Graham said. “If every Bible-believing church in California put up a candidate for the school boards, you could get the school boards and the education back in the state for 10 years.”

“I am not telling them how to vote. I am not telling them what party to belong to,” Graham added. “Get out there and vote and be a spokesperson for God’s standards and for moral issues that we face everyday politically.”

Starnes asked Graham what he thought of being called the “Evangelical Paul Revere,” by the New York Times article and Graham responded:

“That is what I want to do,” Graham said. “I want to try to wake the church up before it is too late.”

Graham has stated time and time again that he isn’t outlining how Christians should vote, but what issues they should hold close to their heart.

Despite the fact that Graham has stated that he isn’t encouraging believers to vote a specific way, a board member for his organization, Samaritan’s Purse, told the New York Times that “only as we change the heart of the people of California can California go red again.”


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The World’s Most Valuable Brands 2018

The world’s biggest tech companies have consolidated their power in recent years, driving huge profits and soaring market values. Apple (phones), Google (search), Microsoft (software), Facebook (social) and Amazon (retail) dominate their respective sectors thanks to winning products and services. But perhaps their most prized and valuable attribute: strong brand names.

(Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

A robust brand helps drive demand and pricing power. The five tech brands above do it better than anyone else and are the five most valuable brands in the world by Forbes’ count, worth a combined $586 billion, up 20% from last year.

Leading the pack as the world’s most valuable brand for the eighth straight year is Apple, with a value of $182.8 billion, up 8%.

Only Apple, thanks to its hard-core fan base, could get away with pricing a phone at $999 and proceed to sell 29 million of them in less than two months, as Apple did at the end of 2017, per Canalys research. Nearly one-quarter of those sales were in China, which hints at Apple’s global reach. Despite some gloom-and-doom forecasts for China ahead of its earnings announcement this month, Apple announced 21% revenue growth for the quarter in the world’s most populous country.

Samsung Electronics actually sold more phones than Apple during the fourth quarter of 2017, but Wall Street firm Canaccord Genuity estimated Apple captured 87% of smartphone industry profits, thanks to the introduction of the pricey iPhone X to its phone lineup. The profit disparity is reflected in their brand values, with the Apple brand worth four times as much as Samsung ($47.6 billion and ranked seventh overall).

Google ranks second overall among the top brands for the third straight year, with a value of $132.1 billion, up 30%. Apple has a 38% lead on the search brand in terms of value, but Google has closed the gap in recent years, as the difference was 121% three years ago.

Google’s parent, Alphabet, dabbles in other sectors with smart-home technology, self-driving cars, aging research and more. But almost all of those “Other Bets” lose money. It is the search business that pays the bills, with operating profit margins 26% last year. Google is the ubiquitous term for search despite the best efforts of Yahoo, Baidu and Microsoft’s Bing to cut into Google’s 80%-plus global market share. It is Google with a lower case “g” that appears in the Oxford Dictionary as the term for search on the Internet.

The fellow tech brands that round out the top five most valuable brands all had big gains, including Microsoft ($104.8 billion, up 21%), Facebook ($94.8 billion, up 29%) and Amazon ($70.9 billion, up 31%).


The World’s Most Valuable Brands 2018

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Amazon overtaking Coca-Cola was the only change in the top five this year. Coca-Cola’s brand value inched up 2% to $57.3 billion, and it was the only non-tech brand in the top seven. Coca-Cola branded sales represented 45% of the company’s total last year, with 13 billion cases sold. Changing drinking habits globally are impacting Coca-Cola, but brand remains uber-important in a sector where you are selling sugar and water. Coca-Cola continues to lead the pack.

Forbes evaluated more than 200 global brands to determine our final list of the 100 most valuable. Brands were required to have a presence in the U.S., which knocked out some big brands like China’s Alibaba and Tencent. The top 100 includes product brands like Proctor & Gamble’s Gillette, as well as brands marketed under their corporate name like American Express.

Click here for the full list of The World’s Most Valuable Brands

Forbes valued the brands on three years of earnings and allocated a percentage of those earnings based on the role brands play in each industry (e.g., high for luxury goods and beverages, low for airlines and oil companies). We applied the average price-to-earnings multiple over the past three years to these earnings to arrive at the final brand value (click herefor the complete methodology).

The 100 most valuable brands are worth a cumulative $2.15 trillion, up 10% from a year ago. They range from Apple at nearly $200 billion to No. 100 KFC at $7.4 billion. Credit climbing profits for the jump in values overall. Earnings before interest and taxes rose 14% on average for the 100 brands.

Tech brands are the most prevalent, representing 20% of the final list, including the top five. Financial services, led by Visa ($24.5 billion), had 13 brands make the cut, followed by autos with 12 brands. Toyota ($44.7 billion) ranked ninth overall and was the top auto brand.

The top 100 is a global list with brands from 16 different countries, but the U.S. dominates with 54 entries, down from 56 last year. Germany (12 brands), along with France and Japan (7 each) were the next best-represented countries.

Netflix ($11.5 billion, up 35%) and PayPal ($7.5 billion, up 33%) were the biggest gainers in the top 100. Netflix doubled its global subscriber base over the past three years to 125 million. Netflix’s premium brand helped push through a U.S. price increase last year and still add to its subscriber base. PayPal’s subscriber base hit 237 million this year, up 43% versus 2015. Customer engagement is high, with 35 transactions per account over the last 12 months.


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Galaxy Note 9 Leak Exposes Samsung’s Massive Upgrade

Finally, some good news. Following weeks of leaks which delivered significant blows to Galaxy Note 9 expectations, one of the industry’s best insiders has a massive upgrade coming to Samsung’s new smartphone…

The ever-mysterious yet consistently accurate Ice Universe, says Samsung has plans to double the Galaxy Note 9’s storage to a massive 512GB while also pushing its RAM to 8GB. Both would be firsts for Samsung’s Galaxy ranges.

Galaxy Note 9 concept was too ambitious

Furthermore, it is worth noting that the Galaxy Note 9 will retain a microSD slot (compatible with up to 512GB) which means this could be the world’s first mass-market 1TB-capable smartphone. Given the recently released Galaxy S9 also only has 4GB of RAM (the Plus variant has 6GB), a jump to 8GB would deliver bragging rights as well.

But there’s one problem.

Ice Universe reveals both moves will happen “If you are lucky” aka Samsung is working on providing them, but has yet to fully commit ahead of the Galaxy Note 9’s early release.

How much should we read into this? Given Ice Universe’s track record, a lot. Previously the leaker broke the Galaxy Note 8 design, revealed the first real-world photos of the Galaxy S8 and provided every single specification of the Galaxy S9. So let’s hope we “are lucky”.

Ice Universe

Galaxy Note 9 – the potential and the reality

If the worst happens, however, and Samsung does continue its recent Galaxy Note 9 asset stripping (with only minimal upsides) you won’t have to wait long to see the company back to its best. The Galaxy S10 will be a radical 10th-anniversary upgrade with a similar early release. And right after that, Samsung will launch something even more exciting

So hold in there.


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30-year-old ordered to vacate parents’ home claims they harassed him


Judge rules in favor of couple seeking to have son evicted from house

A 30-year-old man court-ordered to vacate his parents’ home on Tuesday said he should be given more time to leave because of how much his parents “harassed” him about moving out.

Michael Rotondo, of Camillus, New York, had been living rent-free in his parents’ Syracuse-area home for eight years when a State Supreme Court judge ruled on Tuesday in his parents’ favor, ordering him to move out.

Rotondo, who plans to appeal the decision, said he stopped speaking to his parents when they “alluded” to wanting him to leave the house in October, just one month after he lost custody and visitation rights of his son.

“I’m not bothering them by living here,” Michael Rotondo said in an interview with ABC News’ “Good Morning America.” “It’s little to no cost to them, and considering how much they’ve harassed me, I think it’s the least that they should be required to do, which is just let me hang here a bit longer and use their hot water and electricity.”

PHOTO: The home of Mark and Christina Rotondo is seen in this undated Google Maps, in Syracuse, N.Y. (Google Maps)
PHOTO: The home of Mark and Christina Rotondo is seen in this undated Google Maps, in Syracuse, N.Y. (Google Maps)

By the end of October, Michael Rotondo said his parents were demanding he get a full-time job, health insurance and sessions with a therapist, but he said he “didn’t need any of those things.”

“My parents alluded to the fact that they no longer wanted me living in the house, and I was devastated from the loss, and not seeing my son anymore,” Rotondo said. “After that, I was like, ‘I’m done with you guys.'”

Mark and Christina Rotondo said they gave their son multiple notices to vacate and even offered him money to help him find a place of his own.

Michael Rotondo admitted that he accepted the money, but used it for “other things.”

“I took it but with consideration for my plans, and how my finances interacted with those plans, I did use the money for other things, but I don’t regret that,” he said. “I would have preferred to have kept the money and given it back to them … but I had to use it, and that’s just how it is.”

Michael Rotondo, left, sits during an eviction proceeding in Syracuse, N.Y., brought by his parents, Mark and Christina, of Camillus. The two parents confer with their lawyer, Anthony Adorante, in the court gallery behind. Rotondo told the judge Tues (The Associated Press)
Michael Rotondo, left, sits during an eviction proceeding in Syracuse, N.Y., brought by his parents, Mark and Christina, of Camillus. The two parents confer with their lawyer, Anthony Adorante, in the court gallery behind. Rotondo told the judge Tues (The Associated Press)
PHOTO: Christina and Mark Rotondo sit in New York State Supreme Court on May 22, 2018 during a proceeding where a judge told their son he must vacate their home in Camillus, N.Y. (WSYR)
PHOTO: Christina and Mark Rotondo sit in New York State Supreme Court on May 22, 2018 during a proceeding where a judge told their son he must vacate their home in Camillus, N.Y. (WSYR)

He also accused his parents of trying to “stir something up” to support their court case against him.

“Me and my father recently tried to occupy the same space at the same time … so I said ‘excuse me,’ and he said, ‘I will not excuse you, Michael,’” he said “He’s just trying to stir something up so that he could get me to say something. It’s my overwhelming belief that he’s trying to make it so that he could try and call the police or something to support his case.”

Michael Rotondo had asked for six months to vacate, but the judge disagreed.

He said he was shocked by the ruling and that he couldn’t believe the judge would “make it so that these people can just throw me out instead of letting me stay here.”

PHOTO: Michael Rotondo, left, sits in a New York State Supreme Court as his parents' attorney petitions the judge to order him to move out of their home. (WSYR)
PHOTO: Michael Rotondo, left, sits in a New York State Supreme Court as his parents’ attorney petitions the judge to order him to move out of their home. (WSYR)

Michael Rotondo also addressed critics, including some in his own neighborhood, who claim he wants to live rent-free forever.

“I don’t like living here at all,” he said. “My parents and myself are like two parties that don’t speak the same language.”

“It’s a very serious thing to me to get out, but I have rights, and that’s really what it boils down to. I just want a little more time to get out of here.”

Since Michael Rotondo’s looking for employment, Villa Italian Kitchen, a chain of pizza stores with hundreds of locations nationwide, is offering him a job.

“At Villa, we feel for millennials, across the board,” the company’s COO, Andrew Steinberg, said in a statement. “It’s tough out there. With that said … Michael, hey dude. We are offering you a store-level gig, complete with extensive training to get you up to speed, at any one of our 250 locations worldwide. We heard your parents offered you $1,100 to get out. We’ll do you one better. Literally, one. Offer from us is on the table for $1,101 to come join our team. Consider it a signing bonus. We gotchu, bud.”


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Heroic Sinkhole Opens On White House Lawn, Expressing Public Sentiment


A sinkhole has opened up on the White House North lawn and, no, this is not a metaphor.

View image on Twitter

Voice of America reporter Steve Herman reports that the swamp now has a new drainage system, it’s a result of the ground beneath this administration rapidly crumbling, again it is not a metaphor, and—like Robert Mueller probe—it is expanding.

According to Herman, a second sinkhole—a vice sinkhole, if you will—opened up next to the first in celebration of Gemini season. Both holes have set up GoFundMe accounts to support their progress in rapidly opening up the gates of Hell. At the timing of this writing, both GoFundMe campaigns had exceeded their goal.

It’s a bold but unsurprising resistance action on the part of the planet Earth, one of the Trump administration’s biggest enemies.


Experts expect Trump to declare war on the planet at some point before the midterm elections, so presumably this sinkhole is a preemptive first strike. We reached out to the sinkhole for comments. “Not to get too political,” the sinkhole said, “but I’m really looking forward to swallowing this entire White House into the molten lake of lava that sits in the middle of this planet, next to the dragon cave and the Starbucks.”

The unexplained rapid dissolution of the ground on which the White House stands is, again, not metaphorical but actually happening and hopefully will be captured on a live webcam. Is there anything more American than tuning in in real-time to watch the once-hallowed halls now trod by creeps and Dick Tracy villains tumble into the abyss like a Bluth Company model home?

It’s all happening. And by that I mean, The Happening. The Happening is happening.

Breaking: the sinkhole just inked a multi-year sitcom deal to star in a revival of What’s Happening?

The good news for the president is that a live cam of the sinkhole would probably give him the best ratings of his life, so things are looking up for everyone. The bad news is that the sinkhole currently has a 98% approval rating.

It’s also being reported that Robert Mueller has recently brought a spelunker on to his team and will be following the investigation where ever it leads him, up to and including the La Croix-filled, left-leaning, atrophying core of the planet.

Follow R. Eric Thomas on Twitter.


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Running Uphill: The Challenge of Unseating Dianne Feinstein

Supporters of Senator Dianne Feinstein and of Kevin de León, the State Senate leader, at the California Democratic Party convention in San Diego in February.CreditJenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

OXNARD, Calif. — Kevin de León is one of the most prominent Democratic figures in the nation’s most Democratic state. He has drawn national attention from the Democratic left for a spirited challenge to Senator Dianne Feinstein and for the aggressive legislative challenges to President Trump’s policies advanced by the State Senate under his leadership.

But these days, Mr. de León is struggling for a toehold as he tries to negotiate the fraught and complicated terrain of trying to topple someone widely seen as a California institution. At 84, Ms. Feinstein is a five-term senator who began her political career as a member of the San Francisco board of supervisors in 1969, when Mr. de León was just 4 years old.

Mr. de León, 51, represents what many party members see as one of the leading faces of the next generation of California Democratic leadership amid calls for Ms. Feinstein to step aside to make room for the next class of leaders.

But Mr. de León’s struggles suggest that this moment of transition remains a work in progress. He would seem to have the right political makeup to lead the party to its next chapter. He is more liberal than Ms. Feinstein at a time when the left is on the rise. He is Latino in a state where the power of Latino voters continues to grow. And he is coming off almost four years as president of the Senate, giving him a platform to present himself as one of the state’s most aggressive leaders in opposing Mr. Trump.

Yet he is running against a powerful remnant of California’s old guard who enjoys strong historical, cultural and sentimental ties to many Democrats who have followed Ms. Feinstein’s career over the decades. Mr. de León’s run is exposing the challenges for a candidate who at any other time — or against another opponent — would seem to be a potentially powerful competitor.

Mr. de León is not, for the most part, facing questions on his record; rather, in the view of many of Ms. Feinstein’s supporters, she is a highly successful senator and foil to Mr. Trump, especially on national security issues, and there is simply no reason for her to go.

Ms. Feinstein’s hometown paper, The San Francisco Chronicle, in endorsing her, referred to Mr. de León as “the Young Turk.” In many ways, Mr. de León — who was blocked from seeking re-election to the Senate because of term limits — may end up being the right person but at the wrong time.

Mr. de León, center, spoke with supporters during a luncheon for the Ventura County Democrats in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in April.CreditMelissa Lyttle for The New York Times

“I am not delusional,” he said over an açaí bowl at a diner in San Diego. “Listen, I am not naïve to the fact that people are not shouting my name all over the state of California. What we’ve identified is after 25 years of unchallenged incumbency, people in California want a change. And a new voice representing them. I want to be that voice.”

But he said, “It’s a tough race.”

Mr. de León did have a moment of triumph, as it were, a few months ago when he drew 54 percent of the delegate vote at the state Democratic convention in San Diego. That was enough to block Ms. Feinstein from winning the party’s endorsement (she drew 37 percent) but shy of the 60 percent needed to secure it for himself.

Polls, while of questionable accuracy given the mostly unknown field of candidates from both parties, suggest Mr. de León is struggling to win one of the top two spots in the June 5 nonpartisan primary. Ms. Feinstein has $10.4 million in the bank, including $5 million she lent her campaign, compared with $672,000 for Mr. de León, as of March 31.

So it was that Mr. de León could be found one recent Saturday driving himself around in his blue Chevy Volt from rally to picnic, singing along to Morrissey on the radio, in a one-car campaign caravan that took him from downtown Los Angeles to Thousand Oaks to Oxnard.

Mr. de León has earned applause from some Democrats for leading the Senate as it challenged Mr. Trump.

But Mr. de León’s tenure was also marked by a flood of sexual harassment cases involving lawmakers and legislative aides. Nearly 200 women signed a letter complaining of rampant sexual misconduct in Sacramento, and the disclosures forced Mr. de León and other legislative leaders to revamp disciplinary procedures.


Ms. Feinstein, on Capitol Hill in April, is a five-term senator who began her political career as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1969, when Mr. de León was just 4 years old.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

He has hammered Ms. Feinstein for showing a willingness to work with Mr. Trump and he has taken positions on issues — military intervention, health care, tax cuts, among them — that stand in contrast to the more moderate and measured senator.

More pointedly, he made a point of contrasting his background with Ms. Feinstein, portraying her as the wealthy doyenne of San Francisco Democratic politics and himself as the working-class son of a San Diego barrio seeking to become this state’s first Latino senator. Mr. de León recently took a reporter on a tour of Logan Heights, the San Diego neighborhood where he grew up, and lingered at a single-room apartment where he shared a bed with his single mother who worked as a housekeeper. The tour was memorialized by an aide for a Facebook Live feed.


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A College Degree is Worthless Now

by David Leonhardt –
“You hear people say, ‘Well, a four-year degree isn’t needed,’ ” Connie Ballmer, the philanthropist and wife of the former Microsoft C.E.O. Steve Ballmer, recently told me.
“But then if you turn to them and say, ‘What do you want for your child?’ they wouldn’t dream of not having their kid go to a four-year college,” she continued. “They said it’s not needed — but they need it.”
Ballmer is right. The boomlet of skepticism about college comes disproportionately from upper-middle-class people who have the luxury of airing hypothetical concerns about education, without having to worry that their own children will be influenced by them. Yet the misplaced skepticism can do real damage to poor and working-class teenagers who hear it and take it seriously.
The evidence remains overwhelming: College is the single most reliable path to the middle class and beyond. No, it doesn’t guarantee a good life. Nothing does. But earning a good living without a college degree today is difficult.
College graduates earn vastly more and are far more likely to be employed. They live longer, are more likely to be married and are more satisfied on average with their lives. These relationships appear to be at least partly causal, too. If you want more details, you can read some of my previous columns or dig into a long trail of academic studies.
I was talking to Connie Ballmer because she and her husband recently donated $20 million to an organization with a track record of helping more low- and middle-income students go to college. It’s called College Advising Corps. It started in 2005 and now oversees about 650 recent college graduates. They work for two-year stints in high schools across the country, advising students about two- and four-year colleges.
The advisers are needed because many high-school guidance counselors are overworked. Nationwide, the average counselor is responsible for almost 500 students, according to Nicole Hurd, the founder of College Advising Corps. The student advisers also have the advantage of empathy: Many are themselves recent first-generation college graduates.
As Ballmer says, the counselors are sending an implicit message to the students: “You can do this.” The Ballmer gift will allow the advising corps to grow by about 50 percent in coming years to 1,000. It will also help the organization evaluate its results and try to improve. One area where it can do better: lifting the college graduation rate of the low-income students it advises.
If you’re interested in finding out more, read Anemona Hartocollis’s Times story about College Advising Corps; some academic research on the program’s effects, by Eric Bettinger of Stanford; or a summary of the Ballmer gift.
Department of disagreement. A good example of skepticism about college is an op-ed that ran in The Times this week, called, “College May Not Be Worth It Anymore,” by Ellen Ruppel Shell, a Boston University professor of journalism. I disagree with it, for all the reasons mentioned above. More important, the authors of the research cited in the piece disagree with it.
One of them, Tim Bartik, an economist at the Upjohn Institute, wrote on Twitter: “It draws the wrong conclusions from our work, and omits some important findings.” He wrote a series of tweets with further explanation.
The research by Bartik and his colleague Brad Hershbein finds huge returns on four-year college degrees for all students, including those from lower-income families. For a typical student, a degree is worth about $500,000.
The full Opinion report from The Times follows, including Marguerite Joutz on the college that almost closed.

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