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Connecting the dots: top news stories for Thursday, December 15


The War in Iraq has come to a formal end; the flag will be lowered today. Yesterday, President Obama addressed soldiers in an aircraft hangar at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Obama said that, unlike previous empires, the United States did not invade other states for "territories or resources" but "because it is right." Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said Iraqis were glad the US troops were leaving. He told the BBC, "These have been difficult years...”

Times are pretty difficult in America, too. A new census shows that half of all Americans are poor or low income. But Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, says he’s not so sure those classified as poor or low income actually suffer material hardships with so many safety-net programs around...

If you do, in fact, suffer material hardships, you might want to go to college and get yourself a background in engineering, software design, and programming. Better get started, because the tech industry is looking to increase its local workforce by 5% over the next 12 months. According to a study performed by NOVA, 77% of companies also said hiring people had been pretty challenging for them...

Some Telegraph Avenue businesses in Berkeley are also experiencing business problems. Almost a month after a fire at the Sequoia Building, Telegraph has been declared a disaster zone. Al Geyer, head of the Telegraph Avenue Merchant Association, is pleased. Those whose property was damaged or destroyed by the disaster are now eligible for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration...

U.C Berkeley is also kindly offering loans to those impacted by the fire. And soon Cal will start making education at Berkeley more affordable with the Berkeley Middle Class Access Plan. It would cap the annual cost of U.C Berkeley student's education for families earning up to $140,000 at 15 percent of their earnings...

The Santa Clara School Board is also looking for ways to improve education. It’s decided to build 20 new Rocketships – as in, Rocketship Education, the upstart charter operator that has posted some pretty snazzy test scores. This will increase the number of Rocketship students to 14,000 students: a size equal to some of the largest school districts in Santa Clara County...

Schools are rising, and so is marijuana use by high school students. One in fifteen students now uses marijuana on a “nearly daily” basis, according to a new government report. Maybe that explains the declining interest by high school students in heavy drinking, crack, cocaine, over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, sedatives, tranquilizers, and prescription drugs like Adderall and the narcotic painkiller Vicodin in comparison with the past 20 years.

Connecting the Dots brings together the day's news.

Crosscurrents Connecting the Dots