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'GULAG' REQUIRED READING IN RUSSIA

The book that made "Gulag" a synonym for the horrors of Soviet oppression will be taught in Russian high schools, a generation after the Kremlin banned it as destructive to the communist cause and exiled its author.

The Education Ministry said Wednesday that excerpts of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago, published in 1973, are to be required reading for students.

Coming at a time when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is pushing to restore pride in the Soviet past, the decision could be a reflection of the Russian establishment's struggle to reconcile that pride with the freedoms that Russians take for granted nearly 20 years after dumping communism.

After publication, The Gulag Archipelago circulated underground and soon reached the West in translation. A furious Kremlin expelled Solzhenitsyn in 1974, and he spent the next 20 years in Vermont.

His three-volume book gave the outside world a detailed account of the systematic imprisonment and murder of hundreds of thousands of Russians in prisons and labor camps designed by Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin and expanded by Josef Stalin.

Solzhenitsyn died in August 2008, mourned in the West as a Cold War hero but never revered at home. He was 89.

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$14 over 12 years will get you 56 national parks

State quarters were popular, but there were only 50. So this year the Mint issued collectible coins with U.S. territories, but there are even fewer of those. Next year, the series moves on to honor the country's national parks - the "America the Beautiful" series - starting with Hot Springs in Arkansas. A park in each state and territory will be featured, in the order the park's were established, at the rate of five per year. Florida will get a quarter featuring the Everglades in 2014. Here are the parks that will kick off the program in 2010:

- Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

- Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

- Yosemite National Park (California)

- Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

- Mount Hood National Forest (Oregon)

For the complete list of parks and scheduled release years, go to links.tampabay.com.

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