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March 22, 2014

Imagine: Somewhere in Omaha, Warren Buffett sits in a comfortable recliner. Dairy Queen blizzard in one hand, remote control in the other, the billionaire watches his money grow safer by each final score flashing on the television screen.

Well played, Buffett, well played.

Less than a week into the NCAA tournament, Buffett’s Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Challenge saw all of its 11 million contenders make at least one wrong bracket pick. The 20 people with the best imperfect brackets will still each win $100,000, but if you were planning to quit your day job, well, sorry but you should clock in as usual on Monday.

In the meantime, accept March Madness for what it is: A crazy couple of weeks with upsets galore, Cinderella storylines aplenty, and some pretty great photos to boot. --Sarah Eberspacher

No. 11 Dayton 60, No. 6 Ohio State 59 | (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

No. 12 North Dakota State 80, No. 5 Oklahoma 75 | (James Snook-USA TODAY Sports)

No. 14 Mercer 78, No. 3 Duke 71 | (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

No. 12 SF Austin 77, No. 5 VCU 75 | (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

keeping up with caitlyn
10:16 a.m. ET
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

For the first time since Bruce Jenner transitioned to become Caitlyn Jenner, a major piece of the decathlete's Olympic memorabilia is going to auction. Heritage Auctions estimates that the 1984 Summer Olympic Torch that Jenner carried through Lake Tahoe, Nevada, will sell for at least $20,000. Auction director Chris Ivy described the 24-inch torch as a "wonderful symbol that masculinity and femininity are not mutually exclusive."

After becoming a national hero upon winning the 1976 Olympic Decathlon Gold Medal, Jenner attracted the spotlight again in June when she came out as a transgender woman and revealed herself as Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair. Jenner will accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY Awards on next week for her courage in coming out as a transgender woman. Becca Stanek

college costs
10:07 a.m. ET
David McNew/Getty Images

A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests that federal student aid programs are doing more harm than good. When subsidized federal loans have the effect of "relaxing students’ funding constraints," universities respond by raising tuition to collect the newly available cash.

The resultant tuition hikes can be substantial: The researchers found that each additional dollar of Pell Grant or subsidized student loan money translates to a tuition jump of 55 or 65 cents, respectively. Of course, the higher tuition also applies to students who don't receive federal aid, making college less affordable across the board.

The report also found that subsidized federal loans do not appear to increase enrollment. "[W]hile one would expect a student aid expansion to benefit recipients," the study authors wrote, "the subsidized loan expansion could have been to their detriment, on net, because of the sizable and offsetting tuition effect." Bonnie Kristian

Winter is staying
10:02 a.m. ET

With highs well into the 80’s these days, Boston’s record-breaking, snowy winter seems like a distant memory. That is, unless you visit the city’s last pile of snow: a 12-foot, trash-choked mound of solid ice whose slow, steady melting is a lasting reminder of the grueling winter, The New York Times reports.

The last of Boston’s so-called "snow farms," the pile was created in an empty lot so plows would have somewhere to dump some of the 110 inches of snow that blanketed the city. Once 75 feet high and covering a full 4 acres, new snowfall could make it look “beautiful… like the White Mountains,” according to Michael Dennehy, the commissioner of public works. These days, the slowly shrinking snow pile is mostly notable for it’s trash, tons of urban detritus also swept up by the snow plows. City workers have pulled out everything from candy wrappers to newspaper boxes and manhole covers. And as the mound gets smaller, more and more trash is revealed. As the Times notes, city workers cleared 12 tons of trash from the pile in May. In June, 56 tons.

Boston mayor Martin J. Walsh has asked people, via Twitter, to guess when the snow pile will finally be gone. The winning guess gets a “meet and greet” with Mayor Walsh.


For many, though, they’ll just be happy to see the snow go. One woman summed up what surely must be the feelings of many Bostonians in regards to the snow: “It’s almost gone — thank God.” Marshall Bright

Really?
9:56 a.m. ET
Philippe Huguen/Getty Images

It's conventional wisdom that if a police officer pulls you over late at night, you can proceed slowly to a well-lit, public area to make sure the stop is safe and legitimate. But when DaJuawn Wallace, a graduate student at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, attempted to put this rule into practice, he found himself arrested and slapped with a felony charge for "fleeing and eluding" police.

The stop took place at 2 a.m., while Wallace was out purchasing medicine for his girlfriend. When he saw police lights behind him, he slowly drove to a nearby Sam's Club, waving for the officer to follow him. "I live in Detroit, and I know some people who were robbed by fake police officers," Wallace explained. "I was not speeding up, turning off my lights or trying to get away." He was only pulled over because the cop thought his car resembled one he'd seen driving on a sidewalk earlier that day.

Wallace has been offered a plea deal to reduce his charge to a felony, but taking it would cause him to lose his job and any financial aid opportunities for his master's program. He is pushing for a complete dismissal of charges because, he says, "I feel like I didn't do anything wrong." Bonnie Kristian

afghanistan war
9:51 a.m. ET
Emmanuel Dunand/Getty Images

Members of the Taliban leadership held talks with at least one senior Afghan official in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, The New York Times reports. The Afghan government has expressed hopes that the meeting will lead to negotiations aimed at bringing an end to the Afghanistan War.

Taliban leaders dismissed similar meetings earlier this year in Qatar, Norway, and China as being unofficial talks between individuals and the Afghan government. While it remains to be seen how the Taliban will respond to news of the talks today, Pakistan's role as a go-between is significant, since it is the home of the Taliban leadership in exile and a haven for extremist militants who have long staged raids across the porous Afghan-Pakistani border.

There is also speculation that the threat of ISIS, which has made inroads with the Taliban's base of support, has made the Taliban especially eager to seek peace with the Afghan government, The New York Times reports. Jeva Lange

The Clintons
9:46 a.m. ET
Pool AFP / Getty Images

That's the major insinuation of a new New York Times profile on Roger Clinton, the younger brother to the former president. The article says that Bill may have helped Roger buy an $857,000 house at a time when Roger owed over $100,000 in back taxes.

While public records do not make Bill's purchase of the house "readily apparent," The Times reports that the property was bought by Calle Mayor L.L.C., a company that shares a postal box with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Further confirming the suspicion that Bill did indeed buy a house for Roger is the fact that Hillary reportedly listed an "unidentified parcel of California real estate owned by her husband," when she gave her financial disclosure while secretary of state. According to Roger, he shares ownership of the house "50-50 with Big Brother," his nickname for Bill.

Considering Roger's hefty tax debts, purchasing a house of that value "could have been problematic," tax lawyers told The Times. At the time that Calle Mayor bought the house in 2009, the Internal Revenue Service reportedly had a lien on Roger's assets because of his outstanding tax debt. If the house was purchased under the guise of concealed ownership in the hopes of not paying tax debt, a tax lawyer told The New York Times that it "could be considered tax evasion." However, if the property were openly purchased by a debtor in a repayment plan, or if someone simply bought the home and then let the debtor live in it, that would be "no problem at all." That makes Roger's claim that he "put 50 percent of the money" into the house all the more critical.

The former president and his representatives declined to comment for the article. Becca Stanek

This just in
9:15 a.m. ET
Brian Ach/Getty Images

State and federal law enforcement officials raided the Zionsville, Indiana, home of Subway spokesman Jared Fogle Tuesday morning as part of a child pornography investigation.

In April, Russell Taylor, the former director of Fogle's Jared Foundation, was arrested and accused of possessing and producing child pornography. Investigators says they discovered more than 500 videos at Taylor's home.

Reporting from the scene, local news source WTHR says that members of the task force are removing electronics from the Fogle household and analyzing them in a mobile forensics van. Fogle has been detained, but is not under arrest, and his wife and children have left the scene.

Fogle shot to fame in 2000 as the face of the "Subway diet." He lost a total of 245 pounds on a diet plan that consisted of two Subway sandwiches per day and plenty of walking exercise. Scott Meslow

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