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A trend toward resegregation

BOSTON - Almost 50 years after state-sponsored racial segregation of public schools was outlawed, they are again becoming more racially divided, according to a new report released by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.

The report found integration among whites and blacks steady or decreasing in all but a handful of the nation's largest school districts over the past 14 years. The resegregation results from recent court rulings that dismantled desegregation laws, as well as stalled integration efforts, according to the report's authors. The 20 most rapidly resegregating districts are concentrated in the South, with eight in Texas and three in Georgia. But the report noted that the most stable districts are also in the South.

New twists to the UNC Koran debate

RALEIGH, N.C. - A state legislative committee recommended a ban on the use of public funds for a University of North Carolina reading assignment on the Koran unless other religions get equal time. The book, "Approaching the Qur'an," by Michael Sells, is assigned reading for about 4,200 incoming freshmen and transfer students. It has prompted heated discussion and a lawsuit from some students (see the July 30 Monitor story). To become law, the proposed ban would have to be passed by North Carolina's full House and Senate and be signed by the governor.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?
Plans for universal preschool in L.A.

LOS ANGELES - Officials voted to spend $100 million in tobacco-tax money for free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds in Los Angeles County. The program, unanimously approved last week, could begin enrolling toddlers within six months. It will first target low-income children, expanding half-day programs to a full day. Eventually, it will open to all children and provide enhanced child care for infants, as well. The funding comes from Proposition 10, which added a 50-cent tax to each pack of cigarettes to generate money for social services for families with young children.

Say it in Kurdish

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - With new reforms that ease restrictions on the Kurdish language, a handful of Turkish schools are preparing to teach the once-taboo tongue. The reforms, intended to boost Turkey's chances of joining the European Union, allow private institutes to teach Kurdish, and they legalize TV and radio broadcasts in the language. Turkey, which fought a 15-year war with separatist Kurdish guerrillas, had argued that teaching Kurdish would promote separatism.

Web Smarts

www.spaceweather.com

WHAT: Space Weather provides daily updates on the environment – in space. Using information collected from NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites, the site predicts solar flares, solar wind speed, and other astronomic phenomena.

BEST POINTS: The site offers clear explanations of what space weather is and how it affects us. A gallery of pictures shows glimpses of auroras, eclipses, comets, planets, and just about everything else that appears in our sky. Its list of links helps answer questions as basic as a child's or as complex as a PhD's. The "What's Up in Space" section gives readers a daily update on space-weather news, featuring events such as this week's Perseid meteor shower, which peaks tonight.

For anxious sky watchers, the site provides information on potentially hazardous asteroids – space rocks larger than 100 meters in diameter that come within .05 astronomical units of the earth. Currently, the nearest asteroid will pass earth at a distance of 538,161 kilometers.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Some parts of the site assume prior scientific knowledge.

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