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Report faults oversight of foreign student program PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press   
Saturday, 08 March 2014 07:41

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government is falling short in assessing the risks of a program that allows tens of thousands of foreign students to stay in the United States and work for close to 2 1/2 years, according to a newly released report from the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO, Congress' investigative arm, examined the optional practical training program in Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As of November 2013, the program had approved 100,000 of the 1 million foreign students in the U.S. to work for 12-31 months in a job related to their completed academic studies.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, requested the investigation.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement "has taken initial actions to identify risks across student and exchange visitor program-certified schools; however, ICE has not analyzed available information to identify and assess potential risks specific to the (program) posed by schools and foreign students," the GAO concluded in its Feb. 27 report.

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U.S. employers add 175,000 jobs despite harsh weather PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer   
Friday, 07 March 2014 10:05

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. hiring improved in February from the previous two months despite a blast of wintry weather, likely renewing hopes that growth will accelerate this year.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers added 175,000 jobs last month, up from just 129,000 in January, which was revised up from 113,000. December's gain was also revised higher.

The unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low 6.6 percent. More Americans started looking for work but didn't find jobs. That's still an encouraging sign because more job hunters suggest that people were more optimistic about their prospects.

The figures were a welcome surprise after recent economic reports showed that harsh weather had closed factories, lowered auto sales, and caused existing-home sales to plummet.

"Over the past three months, payrolls growth has averaged 130,000, which is pretty respectable given the widespread weather disruptions," tweeted University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers.

The low temperatures and snow storms that hit the eastern half of the country in February might still have held back hiring. The number of Americans who said weather forced them to work part time rather than full time reached the highest level for February in the 36 years that the government has tracked the figure. The average work week fell.

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Boeing 777: One of the most popular, safest jets PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by SCOTT MAYEROWITZ, AP Airlines Writer   
Saturday, 08 March 2014 07:18

NEW YORK (AP) — The Boeing 777 flown by Malaysia Airlines that disappeared Saturday morning over the South China Sea is one of the world's most popular — and safest — jets.

The long-range jumbo jet has helped connect cities at the far ends of the globe, with flights as long as 16 hours. But more impressive is its safety record: The first fatal crash in its 19-year history only came last July when an Asiana Airlines jet landed short of the runway in San Francisco. Three of the 307 people aboard died.

Airlines like the plane because it is capable of flying extremely long distances thanks to two giant engines. Each engine is so massive that a row of at least five coach seats could fit inside it. By having just two engines, the plane burns through less fuel than four-engine jets, like the Boeing 747, which it has essentially replaced.

"It has provided a new standard in both efficiency and safety," said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation consultant with the Teal Group. "The 777 has enjoyed one of the safest records of any jetliner built."

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Minnesota lawmakers mount new push against Sunday liquor ban PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MIKE CRONIN, Associated Press PATRICK CONDON, Associated Press   
Friday, 07 March 2014 07:35

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota lawmakers hoping to lift the state's decades-old law that forces liquor stores to be closed on Sunday are introducing a range of compromises that would soften the ban, as well as the option to fully repeal it.

A Democratic state senator and Republican representative teamed up Thursday against a ban that's grown increasingly unpopular with Minnesota consumers, but which has proven tough to repeal. Many small liquor store owners support the Sunday prohibition, saying it would force them to be open a seventh day of the week for competitive reasons while not substantially increasing weekly profits.

The powerful Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association opposes lifting the ban, and over several years the group has successfully encouraged liquor store owners around the state to lobby their legislators against changes. But critics of the ban have also grown more organized in recent months, and got a boost recently when Gov. Mark Dayton said he'd sign a repeal bill.

"Eventually, we believe this ban will go away entirely," said Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth. "But to get us closer, we're offering a variety of options from which legislators can choose."

To that end, Reinert and Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, laid out several possible paths:

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