Patt Morrison for December 1, 2009

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Can the Supreme Court give some relief to student debt?

Bankruptcy is becoming an increasing reality for college students who are saddled with so much debt that they have no choice but to protect themselves from creditors. Now the Supreme Court is taking up a case that could determine how and when students can get out from under debt, and how farwhen banks can go in pursuing delinquent students. Banks claim that without a case of extreme hardship students should pay up without exceptions, while students want far more protections from crippling debt.
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The seemingly never-ending Tiger Woods news cycle

Obama’s sending more troops to Afghanistan, the CBO has two new and surprising reports out on health care and unemployment, but all we (the media, the water cooler crowd) can talk about is “the most famous athlete in the world,” (Fox news) Tiger Woods, and his “extremely mysterious car crash.” Major news outlets have spent the better part of the last several news cycles demanding that Tiger needs to answer some serious questions—but does he? Nope. Even despite his endorsement interests, Tiger doesn’t legally owe the police or the public any explanation. So why are we so obsessed? And how do expectations of privacy vanish in light of celebrity?
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Estate tax - benefit or beast?

Under current law, if an inheritance of $3.5 million or more from a parent comes your way in 2010, you would not owe any estate tax on the windfall - none. But in 2011, that same inheritance would cost you 55% in estate taxes on any amount over $1 million. This all could change, however, as Congress takes up legislation this week to even out the effects of a convoluted law.
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Dan Rather on Afghanistan

On the day that President Obama is set to announce a major troop increase and strategy change in the American war in Afghanistan, veteran journalist Dan Rather has just returned from reporting in eastern Afghanistan. Interviewing American soldiers, Taliban fighters and Afghan government officials, Rather paints the picture of a complicated country with no easy solutions. He was first in Afghanistan 30 years ago to report on the Afghan’s war against an invading Soviet army. What guidance does Dan Rather give to the President?
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Even as analysts proclaim that the country is pulling out of its recession, the unemployment rate continues to rise; and in some states, such as Michigan and California, it’s reaching obscene levels. Political heat is coming fast and furious at President Obama for failing to curtail the loss of jobs, and while his Administration is taking steps to address job losses it is not asking for new legislation from Congress. Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, are itching to cobble together a new job-creation bill. What’s the best way to encourage hiring in the U.S.?
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COBRA - or no health insurance at all?

If you are unemployed and purchase your health plan through COBRA, the interim insurance plan available to those who lose their jobs but continue to purchase their employer's health plan at a higher rate, you may see your premium increase by 300% or more. The reason? That subsidy, which pays two-thirds of the COBRA premium, was designed to last just nine months for each person. That means that hundreds of thousands of individuals who got it when it first became available in March lost it today. If you can't afford the higher rates, what are your options? We ask the expert.
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