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Study: Housing costs hurting more

Many more low- and moderate-income working families are spending at least half their salaries on rent or mortgages, according to a study released Tuesday by affordable housing advocates.

More than 4-million households fell into that category last year, a 67 percent increase in four years. The surge is due to increases in housing prices outstripping wages, said the Center for Housing Policy and its parent organization, the National Housing Conference. The result is many must cut spending elsewhere, such as retirement savings, researchers said.

The study identified low- to moderate-income families as those who worked the equivalent of a full-time job and earned between the minimum wage of $10,712 and 120 percent of the median income in their area.

The report dispels the notion that the housing crunch is most severe for renters and the urban working poor, researchers said.

Senate approves

stalled judge nominee

In a nod to Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond at the close of his 48-year Senate career, the Democratic-controlled Senate on Tuesday approved the nomination of a Thurmond protege to a U.S. appeals court.

The Senate voted 55-44 to agree to the promotion of U.S. District Judge Dennis Shedd to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., despite accusations that the South Carolina federal judge had been insensitive in civil rights and employment discrimination cases.

Study: Affluent minority students are motivated

Black and Hispanic students surveyed in diverse, upper-income communities have as much desire to succeed in school as their white and Asian peers, says a study that challenges the idea that some minority groups are less focused on school.

Researchers for the Minority Student Achievement Networkd study said the findings released Tuesday, based on a survey of 40,000 middle, junior and high school students in 15 suburban, high-achieving school districts scattered across the country, show that black and Hispanic students are actually more likely than white students to report that their friends think it is very important to study hard and get good grades.

OFF TO THE ACLU?: Outgoing House Majority Leader Dick Armey, shown just before last year's announcement of his retirement from Congress, says he may go to work for the American Civil Liberties Union. The Texas Republican, a libertarian conservative, has worked with the ACLU to protest government invasions of privacy.

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