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Even when times are tough, many Americans budget a portion of their assets to go to charity. According to Giving USA, a research institute that publishes data and trends on charitable giving, Americans contributed more than $298.42 billion to charities in 2011. While your heart may guide you to a particular charity, don’t just hand over your hard-earned money without getting some information. Though all charities purport to be doing good work, some organizations have less than stellar track records. Just as you would scrutinize a financial investment, so should you examine a charity to ensure your money makes the biggest impact possible.

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An extraordinary level of teamwork, cooperation, trust, planning and execution can equal your survival and triumph in the face of perilous conditions. No clearer were these principles tested than when the crew of the AFR Midnight Rambler, facing hurricane-force winds and monstrous waves, piloted their tiny vessel through the storm to win the Sydney Hobart Race, known as the “Everest of ocean racing.”

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WASHINGTON – Congress can help dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline with legislation that would promote positive alternatives to punitive and exclusionary school discipline practices that plague many classrooms around the country, the American Civil Liberties Union will urge a Senate committee. The ACLU submitted a statement for a groundbreaking hearing to be held tomorrow by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights on the impact of overly severe school discipline. “We commend Sen. Durbin for convening this groundbreaking hearing and we hope that the next Congress will enact legislation to prevent discriminatory and extreme discipline practices that disproportionately harm students of color and students with disabilities,” said Laura Murphy, Director of ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office.

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An adage counsels, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” When it comes to consumer debt, that advice is also a truism. After years of mortgage borrowers complaining about servicing – or the lack thereof – it appears that problems student loan borrowers face are remarkably similar.

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