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March 20, 2009

Mayan countdown calendar to 2012 doomsday?

According to some, the Mayan Calendar is counting down to the Earth's demise. Dec. 21, 2012. How will it end do you ask? An asteroid impact? Maybe strange cosmic alignments will rip the Earth apart? Or... Nothing! Whatever happens we will all have the next fours years, and counting, to talk about it. Good luck!
Check out our Mayan calendar interactive to see how it works.

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Oh! And for those who want to keep up with our impending doom, like me, we have this convenient countdown widget available to post to your Web site, Facebook page, Myspace... You get the idea! Just click get & share on the bottom of the clock.


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Download my News Illustrated page from this Sunday's Sun-Sentinel.

POSTED IN:Karsten Ivey (3)

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March 6, 2009

College costs: paying the price

As the economy continues to worsen, nobody is really sure when we will hit the bottom and start to see some improvement. Many students and parents are wondering how they are going to pay for college. Tuition and fees rise just about every year and in 2007, college tuition and fees increased 439 percent in the past 13 years. Thats higher than the consumer price index, which went up by 106 percent in the same time frame.

Unfortunately a bad economy may mean there is less money out there to be had. So here are some tools to help you find what's out there, see what college could cost you and try to figure out how loans will affect what you owe after graduation.

Here is a college cost calculator from www.collegeboard.com

This is another college loan calculator that can help you figure out how much your monthly loan repayments will be.

The best one that I've seen so far is this Sallie Mae investment planner. It shows you the estimated cost of all 4 years of school and allows you to subtract what you have in savings and from income, grants and scholarships. It then shows you charts and tables of what's left to pay for and helps you figure out how best to pay for it. At the end, based on the information given, it comes up with estimated total monthly payments. It really is a great tool.

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For more information on types of loans, how much debt is too much and breakdowns of costs and enrollment, check out my News Illustrated page on the back of Outlook on Sunday.

POSTED IN: LIndsay Dubois (35)

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Burmese Pythons: Invading a South Florida swamp near you







I hate snakes. Let's get that out in the open right now. PythonAlligatorBattle.jpg

And I really don't like the idea of giant, Southeast Asian pythons roaming around free in the Everglades, let loose because some guy decided he couldn't handle it for a pet.

Case in point: Look what happens to alligators when pythons are in their territory! Remember the photo at right (courtesy of the National Park service) ??!!!!

Aside from the rant about responsible pet ownership, we're looking at a serious problem. So bad, that wildlife officials are training their staff on how to capture the snakes.

But we came across the invasion situation last year, which lent itself to a News Illustrated from my colleague Renee Kwok. Her main focus is that if something is not done about these Burmese pythons, then their populations can spread throughout the southern United States. Can you imagine a python in the sewers of Los Angeles?

So check out the above Flash multimedia gallery that I put together. It has great video from Angela Sachitano about the training wildlife officials. And it showcases the two main features from Renee's page. Pay particular attention to the one about the eggs — you just know it's waiting to be the next Snakes On A Plane!

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