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Saturday
Mar012008

Judge Orders Homeschoolers into Government Education

A California court has ruled that several children in one homeschool family must be enrolled in a public school or "legally qualified" private school, and must attend, sending ripples of shock into the nation's homeschooling advocates as the family reviews its options for appeal.

The ruling came in a case brought against Jonathan and Mary Long over the education being provided to two of their eight children. They are considering an appeal to the state Supreme Court, because they have homeschooled all of their children, the oldest now 29, because of various anti-Christian influences in California's public schools.

The decision from the 2nd Appellate Court in Los Angeles granted a special petition brought by lawyers appointed to represent the two youngest children after the family's homeschooling was brought to the attention of child advocates.

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Saturday
Mar012008

More Americans using credit cards to stay Afloat

Seven years in the credit-counseling business didn't prepare Ann Estes for the alarming trend she began noticing last fall: As her clients' mortgage bills became unaffordable, a growing number of them began paying their credit card bills before — and sometimes instead of — their mortgages.

"We've never seen anything like this," says Estes, who counsels clients by phone from her office in Richmond, Va. "Their homes are at risk, and they know it. But people say, 'I don't want to let my credit cards go because that's my cash flow.' "

Across the nation, credit counselors are reporting the same trend. Credit bureau analyses of consumer payment data show that financially squeezed borrowers have begun paying their credit card and car bills before their mortgages. That's a striking reversal from the norm, one that reflects rising desperation. It suggests that some people essentially have given up trying to stay current with their mortgages and instead are focused on using credit cards to squeak by.

If the trend persists, many economists say, it could accelerate mortgage losses and further drag down the economy.

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Saturday
Mar012008

Iraq war may cost US USD 7 trillion

Noble Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may cost the US up to USD 7 trillion.

When US troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, the Bush administration predicted that the war would be self-financing and that rebuilding the nation would cost less than USD 2b, but Stiglitz estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing America more than USD 3 trillion.

That estimate from the Noble Prize-winning Sttiglitz also serves as the title of his new book, "The Three Trillion Dollar War", which hits store shelves Friday.

The book, co-authored with Harvard University professor Linda Bilmes, builds on previous research that was published in January 2006. The two argued then and now that the cost to America of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is wildly underestimated.

When other factors are added - such as interest on debt, future borrowing for war expenses, the cost of a continued military presence in Iraq and lifetime health-care and counseling for veterans - they think that the wars' costs range from USD 5 trillion to USD 7 trillion.

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Saturday
Mar012008

United States is the World's Incarceration Leader

For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report.

The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.

Using updated state-by-state data, the report said 2,319,258 adults were held in U.S. prisons or jails at the start of 2008 -- one out of every 99.1 adults, and more than any other country in the world.

The steadily growing inmate population "is saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or overall crime," the report said.

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