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Automotive News: Say hello to Detroit Autorama's finest 'rods, customs and race cars

Home of the acclaimed Ridler Award, Detroit Autorama has always drawn some of the country’s finest hot rods, customs and competition cars. While the cars competing for the prestigious trophy are undoubtedly beautiful and generally flawless, the show has also become a staple of the traditional hot-rod world. Period-correct custom cars, nostalgia race cars and…

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Automotive News: The next-gen Ford Fiesta ST is 1.5 liters of fury

When Ford showed off the next-generation Fiesta, the company was tight-lipped about the subcompact’s performance version. Now, ahead of the Geneva motor show, Ford has finally shed light on what we should expect with the future Fiesta ST. The upcoming hot hatch will have a 1.5-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder under its hood, which is 50 percent larger than the 1.0-liter EcoBoost…

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Automotive News: Autoweek in review: Everything you missed Feb. 20-24

Range Rover dug deep into its past for a name on an upcoming model, positioned between the Evoque and the Range Rover Sport. (Yes, there was, in fact, an empty spot between those two models). And that ...

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Consumer News: Warm temperatures, not just drought, are shrinking the Colorado River, study says

The lifeblood of the Southwest is losing its flow

By Amy Martyn of ConsumerAffairs
February 24, 2017

PhotoThe American Southwest as we know it today would not exist without the Colorado River. Spanning 1,450 miles through the region, the river irrigates farms, creates hydro-power, provides drinking water to millions and is a source of fun and beauty in federally-recognized recreation areas and parks along the route.

We couldnt inhabit the Southwest, with its large areas of desert, without a big river running through the middle of it,according to to the author of a two-year-old report which found that the river is responsible for $1.4 trillion worth of economic activity.

All of which is to say, government agencies need to act fast if they want to preserve the economy of the Southwest. New research from the University of Arizona and Colorado State University shows that warming temperatures are causing the Colorado River to shrink.

A 21st-Century Decline

In the 21st century, from 2000 through 2014, the rivers flow reached only 81 percent of its 20th century average, the researchers found. They attributed that change in flow to warming temperatures, saying this is the first study of its kind to trace a direct link between global warming and the decreased Colorado River flow.

"The future of Colorado River is far less rosy than other recent assessments have portrayed, co-author Bradly Udall told ScienceDaily. A clear message to water managers is that they need to plan for significantly lower river flows."

Not that previous assessments of the Colorado River have actually been rosy. A longtime drought has diminished water in the region since 2000. Government officials and researchers have warned that the agriculture industry will need to dramatically cut back on its water usage in the years to come as a result. And the Bureau of Reclamation this month forecast that there is a 34 percent chance the river will not be able to fulfill the needs of all the states depending on it in 2018.

But the drought has only accounted for two-thirds of the rivers decline, according to the latest research from the Colorado and Arizona researchers. The remaining third of the loss, they say, is literally caused by climate change.

Warmer temperatures have been causing the moisture in the river basins waterways to evaporate, according to their research. The findings mean that even an end to the drought may not restore the river to previous levels. We cant say with any certainty that precipitation is going to increase and come to our rescue, Udall explained in another interview.

Conservationists sue to prevent drilling

Yet even as farmers, the real estate industry, and consumers anticipate cutbacks, conservationists worry that other industries may want to build new infrastructure along the Colorado River Basin and get their share.The Bureau of Land Managements resource management plans currently allow for oil and gas drilling in the Colorado Basin area.

Last fall, the Center for Biological Diversity threatened to sue the BLM if the agency would not promise to block all new oil and gas development in the upper basin of the river.Part of the concern, Center for Biological Diversity attorney Wendy Park tells ConsumerAffairs, is that fracking or drilling in the basin would require companies to use tremendous amounts of water, water she worries would likely come from the Colorado River.

But there have been some hopeful developments. Since being threatened with thesuit, the BLM has agreed to do a new evaluation into the effects of industry in the region, called a programmatic biological opinion, which Park anticipates will be ready in the spring.

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Consumer News: For-profit college chain and owner to pay $22 million for defrauding the government

Officials charge that the defendants encouraged students to lie on federal aid forms

By Christopher Maynard of ConsumerAffairs
February 24, 2017

PhotoThe owner of a for-profit college chain has been ordered to pay $22 million and will face prison time after defrauding the federal government and submitting false information to acquire federal aid. Now defunct FastTrain College, which operated seven campuses across the state of Florida, was charged with processing numerous unqualified students in order to collect money from the government.

The complaint states that FastTrain, and its owner Alejandro Amor encouraged(ed) students to lie on their individual loan applications in order to appear to be more attractive loan candidates. . . FastTrain then intentionally submits numerous false individual claims to the government via student loan applications.

Federal prosecutors explain that FastTrain aggressively lied on federal forms and pushed through many false applications, sometimes by assuming the identities of students who were illiterate or unable to fill out the forms themselves.

FastTrain also completes loan paperwork on behalf of illiterate students, and unlawfully assumes these students identities when signing on their behalf. FastTrain submits these false applications to game the system, with which it is very familiar, to have students appear to be eligible, or more attractive loan candidates to obtain Pell grants and other assistance. Through these practices, FastTrain is committing a fraud on the government, the suit reads.

Abhorrent and far-reaching scheme

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke submitted a final judgment on February 15 that specified the payment of12 million in damages and $10 million in penalties. The owner also facedadditional criminal charges of conspiracy to steal government funds and 12 counts of theft of government. In November, 2015, he was sentenced to 97 months in prison.

Cooke stated that students caught up in the scam were especially vulnerable, and were often just looking for a way to obtain a decent-paying job without havingeducational credentials.

Realizing there are few jobs one can obtain without a high-school diploma or equivalent degree, they turned to FastTrain, hoping to learn marketable skills to improve their chances of making a decent living. FastTrain aggressively recruited these students, and then used fraud to make the government think they were eligible for federal aid and loans, she said.

As a result of Amors scheme, Cooke concludes that many students ended up carrying debt that will be enormously difficult to pay off. The effects of Amors fraudulent acts are thus abhorrent and far-reaching, she concluded.

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Automotive News: Audi forced to defend CEO after accusations in diesel crisis court case

In the wake of recent diesel crisis-related allegations against Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, the automaker has taken the unusual step of publicly reiterating its backing for the chief executive. Last week, Stadler was accused in a German labor court by a now-fired top engineer of having known about the diesel defeat devices as early as…

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