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Nation in brief

Immigrants more likely to drop out

By Times Wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 13, 2003

WASHINGTON - Hispanics in their late teens born outside the United States are more than twice as likely to drop out of high school as those born in the United States, according to an analysis of Census data released Thursday.

Nearly 34 percent of Hispanic immigrants age 16 to 19 did not graduate or were not enrolled in high school in 2000, the Pew Hispanic Center found.

Among U.S.-born Hispanics of the same age group, 14 percent were dropouts in 2000, down from 15 percent a decade earlier.

A lack of proficiency in English and a need to work to send money back to family members in their native countries were key reasons for the difference.

Class-action suits may move to federal court

WASHINGTON - The House on Thursday approved moving virtually all national class-action lawsuits from state court into federal court, a move supporters hope will curb frivolous lawsuits but opponents fear will allow big businesses to escape multimillion-dollar verdicts for misdeeds.

Pushing the bill through on a 253-170 vote, majority Republicans argued that trial lawyers increasingly abuse such lawsuits to profit from multimillion-dollar settlements. Victims, on the other hand, often get virtually worthless coupons, GOP lawmakers maintain.

Pair survives plunge into Alaskan river

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - A father and son on an Arctic rafting expedition survived a plunge under river ice and five days without food or supplies, rescuers said.

Blake Stanfield of Seward and his father, Neil, of Oklahoma City, were found "starving and tired and exhausted" before being flown out of the wilderness early Wednesday by an Army helicopter, said 1st Lt. Wesley Madden, an Army pilot.

The pair lost most of their supplies Friday when they were sucked under a large patch of ice near the Arctic Circle. They said they were trapped under a 30-foot-long section of ice before surfacing. A break lasted long enough for them to grab a breath before being swept underneath an even longer section of ice.

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