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Putin likely to take tough tone with Washington


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Unrelenting downturn redrawing U.S. economic map


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When the unemployment rate rose in most states last month, it underscored the extent to which the deep recession, the anemic recovery and the lingering crisis of joblessness are beginning to reshape the United States’ economic map. The once-booming South, which entered the recession with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, is now struggling with some of the highest rates, recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show. Several Southern states — including South Carolina, whose 11.1 percent unemployment rate is the fourth highest in the nation — have higher unemployment rates than they did a year ago. Unemployment in the South is now higher than it is in the Northeast and the Midwest, which include Rust Belt states that were strug-

— the national rate is 9.1 percent — but the regions have recovered at different speeds. Now, with the concentration of the highest unemployment rates in the South and the West, some economists and researchers wonder whether it is an anomaly of the uneven recovery or a harbinger of things to come. “Because the recovery is so painfully slow, people may begin to think of the trends established during the recovery as normal,â€? said Howard Wial, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program who recently co-wrote an economic analysis of the nation’s        100 largest metropolitan areas. !" $#$#!$($  $(   ")# “Will people think of Florida, %! ($"$'#$!"$%%#$ California, Nevada and Arizona as more or less permanently gling even before the recession. gling Rust Belt. Since the reces- depressed? Think of the Great For decades, the nation’s eco- sion hit, though, that is no longer Lakes as being a renaissance nomic landscape consisted of a the case. Unemployment remains prospering Sun Belt and a strug- high across much of the country *   

U.S. graduation rates stagnant even as enrollment rises earned a degree. Similarly, in Utah, ' "# "& for 100 students who enrolled in a A report to be released this week public college, 71 chose a commuby a group seeking to raise college nity college, 45 enrolling full time graduation rates shows that despite and 26 part time; after four years, decades of steadily climbing enroll- only 14 of the full-time students ment rates, the percentage of stu- and one of the part-time students dents making it to the ďŹ nish line is graduated. Of the 29 who started at a four-year college, only 13 got their barely budging. The group, Complete College degree within eight years. Because of gaps in federal staAmerica, is a nonproďŹ t founded two tistics, students who years ago with ďŹ nancenroll part time, or ing from the Bill and 

   transfer have been Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lumina     nearly invisible, said Stan Jones, the presiFoundation and oth-       dent of Complete ers. Its report, which College America. had the coopera-     “We know they tion of 33 governors, showed how many of     enroll, but we don’t know what happens the students in U.S. to them,â€? he said. states completed their    “We shouldn’t make degrees, broken down    policy based on the into categories, including whether en-    image of students going straight from high rollment is full or part school to college, livtime, or at a two- or     ing on campus, and four-year institution. The numbers are stark: In Texas, graduating four years later, when for example, of every 100 students the majority of college students who enrolled in a public college, don’t do that.â€? Currently, federal education sta79 started at a community college, and only two of them earned a two- tistics generally focus on ďŹ rst-time year degree on time; even after four full-time students. But according to years, only seven graduated. Of the the report, about 4 of every 10 pub21 of those 100 who enrolled at a lic college students attend part four-year college, ďŹ ve graduate on time; after eight years, only 13 had *  


Vladimir Putin, the former and next president of Russia, has long had a sharp-tongued prickliness about the United States. “Hooligan,â€? he snapped at one time. “Parasiteâ€? was his most recent description. In contrast, Russia’s current president, Dmitry Medvedev, cast himself as the tech-savvy reformer with a Twitter account, and he mostly smiled at the West. When Putin, currently Russia’s prime minister, makes the very short trip back to the Kremlin next May from his current digs, he will likely bring a tougher tone to Moscow’s engagement with the Obama administration, and the next administration, and possibly the one after that. At a conference of the United Russia party over the weekend, Medvedev announced that he would step aside for Putin, raising the prospect that the former KGB agent, who was president from 2000 to 2008, will now rule Russia until 2024. “There is a really good chance that this makes the atmosphere more frosty,â€? said Fiona Hill, director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. “We know Putin is more distrustful of the relationship as a natural condition than Medvedev.â€? But it is not yet clear whether there will be any substantive change to a U.S.-Russia relationship that has improved signiďŹ cantly since it reached a post-Soviet nadir after the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. After all, according to most analysts — including U.S. diplomats in Moscow — Putin was always the paramount ďŹ gure in the political tandem he formed with Medvedev, his young protege from their shared home town, St. Petersburg. *

In U.K., a coalition of the unwilling


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LONDON — With the leaders of both parties in the governing coalition pledged to uphold their pact until a new election in 2015, Britain, at least on the face of it, has the basis for political stability as it wrestles with the ďŹ nancial

crisis roiling Europe and the apparent drift of Britain’s own economy toward stagnation. But as it approaches the 18th-month mark, Britain’s ďŹ rst peacetime coalition government in nearly 70 years has come to resemble a leaky boat in heaving seas. A groundswell of unease

in both parties, the Conservatives under Prime Minister David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats under Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, has heightened the underlying political tensions and raised new doubts about how *  

Petitioning system goes to pot, and more


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When the White House announced “We the People,� an online system for petitioning the government, it no doubt hoped that it would become a high-minded way for citizens to interact with their political leaders. And so, now that the system is live, how’s that working? More than 77,000 people have signed petitions urging the Obama administration to legalize marijuana. “Isn’t it time to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol?� asks the top petition on the White House website. “If not, please explain why you feel that the continued criminalization of cannabis will achieve the results in the future that it has never achieved in the past?�

The White House has promised a response to any petition that receives more than 5,000 signatures, though it did not promise to agree with them. Other petitions address: l Stopping animal homelessness, which has recorded 7,726 supporters. l Dissolving the Electoral College, which has drawn more than 8,000 signatures. l Protecting shark ďŹ ns. Only 2,136 people have so far petitioned for a ban on the sale, trade and possession of ďŹ ns.  






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