Liberal coalition plans fight over welfare law
WASHINGTON -- A coalition of liberals is vowing to fight for changes in federal welfare policy when the landmark overhaul is renewed next year. Kicking off their campaign, they argue that the popular changes aren't working as well as most Americans think.
The newly formed National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support, made up of some 1,000 groups, argues that the 1996 welfare law has left the nation with a tattered safety net that will be unable to support needy Americans if the economic slump deepens.
The 1996 law ended the six-decade federal guarantee of cash benefits to the poor, limited welfare to five years and imposed strict work requirements. The results were dramatic: Caseloads fell by nearly 60 percent, as welfare recipients were lured into jobs by the strong economy or pushed off the rolls by tough new rules.
At the same time, poverty rates have not fallen as far as welfare rolls, with many people leaving welfare for jobs that don't pay enough to reach the poverty line.
The new group, which is launching its campaign today, is looking for a host of changes. Among them: Allowing people on welfare to satisfy work requirements by participating in education or training, stopping the clock on the five-year time limit if someone is working and restoring welfare, food stamp, health and disability benefits to legal immigrants.
Board alerts studentsto delayed SAT scores
NEW YORK -- With thousands of unscored SAT exams apparently stuck in New Jersey post offices because of the anthrax scare, the College Board said it was contacting high school students and offering them a chance to retake the test or get a refund.
The College Board, a New York-based higher education membership organization, owns the test, which is given seven times during the school year. But scoring of the $25 college entrance tests is conducted by the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J.
The College Board estimates mail delays held up the answer sheets of as many as 7,800 students out of about 550,000 who took the test Oct. 13. That figure was based on the fact that ETS got none, or only some, of the answer sheets from 89 high schools and other test centers in this country and overseas.
More than 2 million students take the SAT each year, about half of them seniors. This is the height of the college application season.
Students may retake the test at no charge at the next scheduled sitting, Dec. 1, College Board spokesman John Hamill said Tuesday. But the College Board also plans several makeup tests, which will likely be scheduled for later in December. Test takers may also request a refund.
Strom Thurmondmoves into hospital
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Sen. Strom Thurmond, the nation's oldest and longest-serving senator, has moved into a Washington hospital to allow doctors to monitor his health while he continues to work.
Thurmond, 98, moved over the weekend from his Virginia town house to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center on the advice of his doctor, according to a statement from Thurmond's family.
Thurmond's spokesman, Rebecca Fleming, told The (Columbia) State newspaper in today's editions that the senator is not ill. Thurmond can receive visitors at the hospital and is free to come and go, she said.
The senator's office said the move was temporary, but could not say when he might leave the hospital. Thurmond continues to work and vote in the Senate.
The Republican has become increasingly frail in recent months. Last month, he was treated overnight at Walter Reed for dehydration after fainting in the Senate chamber.
Powerful quake in China
BEIJING -- An extremely powerful earthquake shook a sparsely populated region of northwestern China today, government seismologists said. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
The 8.1-magnitude quake, which Chinese state television said hit at 5:26 p.m. local time, was centered in the Kunlun mountain area near the border of Qinghai province and its Xinjiang region in the far northwestern part of China, according to the State Seismology Bureau in Beijing.
The Xinjiang Seismology Bureau in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, confirmed the temblor and said few people live in the rugged region about 1,250 miles from Beijing.
Earthquakes are common in remote regions of China, though an 8.1-magnitude tremor is considered extremely strong.
China's two most lethal earthquakes of the past century -- in 1920 and 1976 -- hit populated areas and killed more than 100,000 people and 240,000 people respectively.