News in Brief: Home Repossessions Highest Since Crisis Began, and More

Home Repossessions Highest Since Crisis Began

The number of American homes lost to foreclosure is up 25 percent from the same time last year, and more homes were repossessed by lenders in August than in any month since the start of the mortgage crisis, according to an Associated Press report. The increase in repossessions comes even as overall foreclosure rate continues to slow for the seventh month in a row. Banks are repossessing more and more homes to clear backlogs of bad loans and prepare to start putting repossessed properties back on the market. A total of 95,364 homes were repossessed during the month of August, according to the report.

Tax Cuts for Richest Americans Would Add More Debt Than Healthcare Reform

The Senate Republicans’ plan to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans would cost the US treasury $4 trillion over the next decade, according to a Washington Post report. The startling figure comes at a time when Republicans are attacking Democrats for deficit spending. The Congressional Budget Office reports that the plan, which would continue to provide tax breaks on estates worth more than $5 million for individuals, or $10 million for couples, could force the government to borrow trillions of dollars and increase interest payments on national debt to a level four times higher than the projected deficit impact of the healthcare overhaul. The Obama administration has recommended that lawmakers only extend tax cuts to Americans earning less than $250,000 a year.

Polls Show Voter Frustration Does Not Always Benefit Republicans

A recent poll shows that, by a nine-point margin, voters believe Republicans could gain control of both the House and the Senate following upcoming elections. The same voters were split 43 to 43 on which party they planned to vote for, however, which analysts say is a good sign for Democrats. The poll was conducted by Politico and George Washington University. A recent CBS/New York Times poll shows that, while 63 percent of voters are critical of Democratic policies, a total of 73 percent think Republican policies are even worse.

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Illegal Drug Use Spikes

The rate of drug use in American rose 9 percent last year to the highest point in nearly a decade, according to a government report obtained by the Associated Press. About 21.8 million Americans reported using illegal drugs during 2009. An increase in marijuana use and dramatic increases in ecstasy and methamphetamine are to blame, according to the report. Critics of marijuana legalization were quick to blame the medical marijuana movement for encouraging more users, but proponents of marijuana legalization argued the ongoing drug war simply fails to prevent Americans from using the highly popular and non-lethal plant. Use of ecstasy and methamphetamine, which are more dangerous and addictive than marijuana, increased by 37 and 60 percent respectively. Cocaine use was down 36 percent from its peak in 2006.

France’s Roma Expulsion Program Draws Heat at EU Summit

France’s recent decision to expel nomadic Roma people from the country is causing tensions in a European Union summit currently being held in Belgium, according to a UK Guardian report. EU Justice Commissioner Vivian Reding has threatened to take the French government to court. France began breaking up Roma camps and deporting the nomads – who are sometimes called Gypsies – following some localized incidents of rioting and violence in southern France. The country has had its fair share of immigration problems recently, with riots erupting in immigrant neighborhoods earlier this summer and the passage this week of a ban on the veils worn by some Muslim woman.