News in Brief: Delta Charges Returning Soldiers for Baggage, and More

Delta Charges Returning Soldiers for Baggage

Soldiers returning home from Afghanistan said they had to pay Delta Air Lines $2,800 in out-of-pocket fees to check their extra bags, CBS News reports. In a video posted on YouTube, the soldiers say the Army authorized them to bring up to four bags with them as they came home to Fort Polk in Louisiana – but when the unit checked in at the Baltimore-Washington airport, they discovered that Delta had charged them $200 each for excess luggage, “even though there's a contract between the United States government and Delta Air Lines” allowing a fourth bag, Staff Sgt. Robert O'Hair said in the video. Delta said it would “reach out” to the soldiers, but did not specify whether they would be reimbursed.

Boehner Taking $2,000 Monthly in Taxpayer-Funded Expense Checks

According to Roll Call, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has more than doubled the expense account checks he cashes every month. As Minority Leader, Boehner received a monthly payment of $833 in taxpayer funds to cover “official expenses for leaders” – but after becoming speaker after the midterm elections in 2010, Boehner increased his expense payments to $2,083.33. Boehner's office did not offer details on how he spends his monthly check, which, along with his $30,000 salary jump, brought his total annual income up 22 percent from $203,400 to $248,500. Boehner appears to be the only member of the House accepting direct expense payments.

Benefits of US Aid in Afghanistan Could Falter After Troop Withdrawal

According to Reuters, a two-year study by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic majority found that the $320 million a month in foreign aid spent in Afghanistan should focus on sustainability, rather than the short-term stabilization programs currently being put in place in the country's southern and eastern regions, where the Taliban is the strongest. Otherwise, the report said, misspent foreign aid could support corruption and insecurity in Afghanistan and harm the labor market. “Afghanistan could suffer a severe economic depression when foreign troops leave in 2014 unless the proper planning begins now,” the study said. “The evidence that stabilization programs promote stability is limited. Some research suggests the opposite.” The report, which is to be released Wednesday, comes as President Barack Obama prepares to announce the administration's decision on when to start bringing home 100,000 US troops.

New Jersey Drastically Cuts Public Broadcasting

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced plans to significantly scale back public broadcasting produced in the state by giving New York's WNET-TV control over the New Jersey Network, Democracy Now! writes. The deal will mean cutting the jobs of all 130 New Jersey Network employees, though approximately 20 will be hired to produce content for the merged station. Christie's plan will also contract the privately owned Caucus Educational Corporation to provide 20 hours of television content per week. The deal marks the first of several sales that will see all nine of New Jersey Network's radio licenses sold to Philadelphia's WHYY and New York Public Radio.