Not Good Enough: Math, Reading Scores Up Slightly

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WASHINGTON  - Sometimes the best isn’t good enough: Most American fourth and eighth graders still lack basic skills in math and science despite record high scores on a national exam. Yes, today’s students are doing better than those who came before them. But the improvements have come at a snail’s pace. The 2013 Nation’s Report […]

In Banner Year For Black Films, Hopes For Momentum

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NEW YORK – Oprah Winfrey has heard this story before. A wave of high-profile films about black people receives accolades. A heart-warming trend of greater on-screen equality is declared. Hollywood basks in its multiculturalism – and then returns to business as usual. From the slavery odyssey “12 Years a Slave” to the day-in-a-life drama “Fruitvale […]

High Court Weighs Michigan Affirmative Action Ban

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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court is taking up a case about Michigan’s voter-approved ban on taking account of race in college admissions. The justices are hearing argument Tuesday over whether the change to the state constitution that voters backed in 2006 discriminates against minorities. The outcome also could affect similar measures in California and Washington […]

Consumers Warned of Misleading Insurance Websites

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NATIONWIDE – Insurance regulators and an industry trade group warn that this month’s rollout of the health insurance marketplaces created by federal law opened the door for bad actors at the same time that it gives brokers and agents a business opportunity. New Hampshire’s insurance commissioner sent a cease-and-desist letter last week to an Arizona […]

For Obama, Budget Fight Has High Stakes for Agenda

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WASHINGTON – For President Barack Obama, the outcome of the fiscal fights with Republicans this week could have broad consequences for his stalled second-term agenda. A favorable deal for the White House that ends the partial government shutdown and lifts the debt ceiling could give Obama an opening to try to marginalize tea party lawmakers […]

High Court Won’t Stop California Inmate Reduction

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SACRAMENTO – The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday it will not consider Gov. Jerry Brown’s appeal of an order to trim the state prison population by another 9,600 inmates, leaving him with just one more chance to persuade a lower court to stop or delay a reduction that he says threatens public safety. The justices […]

Poll: Many Calif. Voters in Dark on ‘Obamacare’

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LOS ANGELES — A new Field Poll says many Californians are only vaguely familiar with details of President Barack Obama’s health care reforms, even though enrollment starts in October. The survey released Tuesday finds that about one in four state voters knows little or nothing about the Affordable Care Act. Another 60 percent say they […]

A Look at Federal Role in Civil Rights Cases

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WASHINGTON – Almost as soon as George Zimmerman was pronounced “not guilty” in a Florida courtroom, the cry went up. The U.S. government must get “justice for Trayvon,” insisted protesters angry about the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. The call will resound again later this month through events marking the 50th anniversary […]

Bill Gives Calif. Youthful Offenders Second Chance

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SACRAMENTO — Criminals serving long prison sentences for offenses they committed as teenagers would have an earlier chance for freedom under a bill working its way through the Legislature. The bill by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, expands on legislation signed into law last year that gives a second chance to inmates who committed murder before […]

AG Holder To Push For Lighter Low-Level Drug Sentences

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WASHINGTON — With the US facing massive overcrowding in its prisons, Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for major changes to the nation’s criminal justice system that would scale back the use of harsh sentences for certain drug-related crimes. In remarks prepared for delivery to the American Bar Association in San Francisco, Holder also favors […]