Rayner office workerThe sluggish economy is obviously the biggest burden for the 14.5 million Americans on the unemployment rolls. But the recently re-employed are also feeling the pain, with many formerly laid-off workers moving into new jobs that involve major pay cuts, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"Between 2007 and 2009, more than half the full-time workers who lost jobs that they had held for at least three years and then found new full-time work by early last year reported wage declines, according to the Labor Department," the paper reports. "Thirty-six percent reported the new job paid at least 20 percent less than the one they lost."
Of course, high unemployment -- it's currently at 9.4 percent -- leads to downward pressure on wages. But past periods of high joblessness haven't brought the swift decline that some sections of the labor force have experienced this time around. And because high unemployment is predicted to last awhile -- the Federal Reserve has projected an unemployment rate of about 8 percent by the end of 2012 -- that downward pressure is likely to continue. http://www.zscyjj.com/Templates/%E5%95%86%E4%B8%9A%E6%A8%A1%E7%89%8820-%E9%BB%91%E8%89%B2%E7%BB%8F%E5%85%B8/css/all.html Jeffry Derek
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Jarred Bloomberg and Ed Chief Dennis Walcott say the state should have to pay for tougher cheating rules. (AP)New York City's top education officials say they shouldn't have to pay for a new measure from the state to prevent teacher-sanctioned cheating on tests.
The state wants to bar all teachers from administering and grading their own students' standardized tests.?An investigation in 2009 showed that some high school teachers appeared to be inflating their students' scores so they could graduate.
An email from 2004?obtained by the New York Post shows that the state's top education official at the time, Richard Mills, appeared to be aware of the practice. He noted in the email that an unusually large number of students received the minimum score required to graduate on the tests. "There is already a de-facto compensatory scoring system being employed in the schools because of the high numbers scoring 55," he wrote, adding that "obviously" teachers were trying to get their kids to pass. http://chinzhumei.com/img/all.html Maximilian Bernard
Egbert housing slumpWe knew the housing crash was pretty bad--but it may have been even worse than we thought.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR), which each month publishes a high-profile estimate of previously owned home sales, is looking into?whether it over-counted the number of such sales dating back to 2007, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The potential discrepancy may be significant. NAR reported that there were 4.9 million sales in 2010, down 5.7 percent from 5.2 million in 2009. But a separate survey by CoreLogic, a real-estate analytics firm, put the figures for 2010 and 2009 at just?3.3 million and?3.7 million respectively, which would be a drop of 10.8 percent.
As one housing economist put it to the Journal, downward revisions would show that "this horrific downturn in the housing market has been even more pronounced than what people thought, and people already thought it was pretty bad."
(A house is advertised at a reduced price in Stockton, Calif.: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP) http://daoyaan.com/ddc/image/an/all.html Garey Nathan
Jordan foreclosure prudentialWe've told you before about how big banks cut corners on paperwork over the last few years in order to speed struggling homeowners into foreclosure. And a "60 Minutes" report that aired last night offers fresh anecdotal reporting on just how irresponsible--and potentially fraudulent--the banks' practices were. Meanwhile, compelling video of a grandmother being evicted from her home by a SWAT team last week suggests the banks aren't slowing down their rush to foreclosure and eviction.
Banks profit by processing a vast number of homes into foreclosure as quickly as possible. But as "60 Minutes" details, many of the mortgages at issue were bundled and sold from one Wall Street investor to another during the housing boom, with scant attention paid among financial players to the actual underlying ownership documents. And as the foreclosures unwind in a slew of court proceedings nationwide, many banks have produced dubiously rendered legal documents that seek to shore up the ownership paperwork long after the original mortgage transactions were on the books. In some cases, financial institutions paid contract companies who employed an army of "robo-signers"��office workers who forged signatures on mortgage documents that were then used to initiate foreclosures. http://www.0734666.com/images/ad/index.html Aloysius Patrick
Gorden The Islamic Society of North American conference in 2006 (AP/M. Spencer Green)
A new study based on interviews with more than 200 North American Muslims over four years concludes that a recent spate of state laws banning "sharia law" from the court system may be an overreaction to a non-existent threat.
Oklahoma, Tennessee and Louisiana each passed laws or referendums to ban state judges from considering sharia and other foreign laws last year, and more than 20 other states have debated similar legislation. Newt Gingrich has called for a federal law to ban sharia, while his fellow Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has said sharia law is an "existential threat" to America.
The qualitative study, by University of Windsor law professor Julie MacFarlane and published by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding think tank, is the first to ask American Muslims what they think of sharia, or Islamic religious law. MacFarlane interviewed 101 Muslim men and women, 41 imams and 70 community leaders and specialists about their uses of Islamic law in everyday life. (About a quarter of the respondents live in Canada, but MacFarlane found no significant difference between the?Canadian?and American responses.)
MacFarlane asked the respondents whether they thought American courts should apply Islamic law to non-Muslims in the legal system. All of them said no.
Three imams out of the 41 interviewed said they wanted a parallel Islamic family tribunal where Muslims could go to sort out their legal problems. But this idea was unpopular with every other respondent, who were content with the separate and secular civil court system. The study's sample was not random, and MacFarlane's findings are not generalizable to the American Muslim community as a whole. But the research still offers a rare look into Muslim attitudes about sharia. http://www.xwlngy.com/plug/comment/img/all.html Jared William
Maximillian AP100106059023Tucked away in a New York Times story about freshman House Republicans' agenda for the next two years is the revelation that country star Carrie Underwood's song "Undo It" has become an anthem for those who want to roll back the health care law and other Democratic initiatives.
"Many seem to have latched on to 'Undo It,' the hit by the country singer Carrie Underwood, as the refrain for their planned attack against legislation that grew out of the 111th Congress, when the Democrats were at the helm in both chambers," the Times says.
Some of the lyrics:
"You stole my happy, you made me cry
"Took the lonely and took me for a ride
"And I wanna uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-undo it"
Underwood, an Oklahoma native who won the "American Idol" competition in 2005, has eschewed public politicking. "I lose all respect for celebrities when they back a candidate," she said before the 2008 presidential elections. Her only vaguely public political stand has been her support for People for the Ethical Treatment http://www.dgguangli.com.cn/Utility/Images/s/index.html Brion Gorden
Zachariah A man crosses a street in New Orleans during Hurricane Isaac, Aug. 29, 2012. (David J. Phillip/AP)
A storm surge from Hurricane Isaac topped a levee in Plaquemines Parish south of New Orleans early Wednesday, officials said, trapping those who chose not to evacuate.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said the 18-mile-long, 8-foot-high levee��which is not part of the nearly $15 billion federal levee system constructed after Hurricane Katrina��was in the process of being raised.
"We knew we had a potential storm surge of 9 to 12 feet��we had an 8-foot levee," Nungesser said on CNN. "We're trying to get the few people who have stayed out. We've got a serious situation over there."
[Live-blog: Hurricane Isaac batters New Orleans, Gulf Coast]
Isaac made landfall at 6:45 p.m. CT Tuesday in Plaquemines Parish, and the slow-moving Category 1 hurricane��now centered about 50 miles southwest of New Orleans with maximum sustained winds topping 80 mph��is expected to dump as much as 20 inches of rain in several parts of Louisiana.
"Not only did we see the worst-case scenario, it got worse than that by this storm just stalling," Nungesser said. "So the levees can only take so much."
Nungesser said there were reports of up to 12 feet of water in some homes. "This is something I've never seen before," he said. "And I rode out Katrina."
[Slideshow: Hurricane Isaac pounds Gulf Coast]
Nungesser said three parish residents, including a woman on a roof, were saved by a private boat. Rescue workers were waiting for conditions to improve��and skies to lighten��before attempting other rescues.
"We're working with the U.S. Coast Guard to rescue people stranded on top of the levee," Nungesser said at a press conference.
Part of Plaquemines Parish was under a mandatory evacuation order, though it's not clear how many of its 26,000 residents left before the storm.
"There are homes inundated and some folks trapped by water in those homes," Guy Laigast, director of homeland security for Plaquemines Parish, told the Weather Channel.
[Related: Hurricane Isaac as seen from space]
"Over 150 people have had to be rescued from #Isaac flooding," CNN's Rob Marciano tweeted. "The majority were within mandatory evacuation zones."
According to News Orleans' Times-Picayune, Jesse Schaffer and his son have been rescuing stranded residents with their boat.
"We've rescued at least 23 people including children," Jesse Shaffer Jr. said.
The Army Corps of Engineers said the New Orleans levee protection system appeared to be working. Meanwhile, more than 500,000 customers were left without power in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, utility companies said. According to The Associated Press, most of the outages are in areas around New Orleans.
A tornado warning has also been issued in southern Mississippi. http://lijingweigang.com/d/d/all.html Job Mervyn
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Last year, young immigrant activists went on hunger strikes, staged sit-ins at senators' offices, and attended protests on Capitol Hill, clad in graduation caps and gowns. They risked deportation by "coming out"--admitting publicly they were illegal immigrants--all to show their support for the 10-year-old DREAM Act, legislation that would have allowed illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children to become documented if they went to college or joined the military.
Despite the vocal backing of President Obama, the bill failed in the Senate in December, amid objections, chiefly from GOP lawmakers, that it amounted to amnesty and would encourage more illegal immigration.
Now, some of the young people who just a few months ago were holding forth the hope that they could become legal residents in the country they grew up in are facing deportation. One such activist is Prerna Lal, a George Washington University law student who founded the DreamActivist site in 2007 for young illegal immigrants to connect and organize to get the law passed. http://0396zsw.com/core/nore/all.html Harold Hubert