Almost 1 in 3 US youths arrested by age 23, researchers say

Posted Dec. 19, 2011, at 8:40 p.m.

NEW YORK — About 30 percent of Americans by age 23 have been arrested at least once for something other than a traffic violation, increasing their chances of professional and family strife, researchers say.

By age 18, about 16 to 27 percent of teenagers have been arrested at least once, according to a study released Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The report is based on questionnaires of more than 7,300 young people conducted from 1997 to 2008.

Youth with arrest records have lower earnings, longer periods of unemployment and a greater risk of family conflict than those without, according to the study. The previous best estimate of arrests for nontraffic offenses was done in 1965, and showed that about 22 percent of U.S. adults had been apprehended at least once by age 23.

The increase in arrest rates is primarily in ages 19 through 22, and may reflect the delay in marriage and careers as more young people seek higher education, increasing the length of “adolescence,” said Robert Brame, a criminologist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and lead author of the study.

Snowstorm halts travel across Great Plains

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A late-autumn snowstorm lumbered into the Great Plains on Monday, unleashing snow and fierce winds that turned roads to ice, reduced visibility to zero and jeopardized thousands of holiday motorists’ travel plans just two days before the official start of winter.

The storm was blamed for at least two deaths in Colorado. A guard and an inmate were killed after a prison van lost control on an icy highway five miles east of Limon on Colorado’s plains.

From northern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle through Oklahoma and northwestern Kansas, blizzard conditions put state road crews on alert and had motorists taking refuge and early exits off major roads.

In northern New Mexico, snow and ice forced the closure of all roads from the town of Raton to the Texas and Oklahoma borders about 90 miles away.

At gas pump, 2011 was the year of the big squeeze

NEW YORK — When the gifts from Grandma are unloaded and holiday travel is over, the typical American household will have spent $4,155 filling up this year, a record. That is 8.4 percent of what the median family takes in, the highest share since 1981.

Gas averaged more than $3.50 a gallon this year, another record. And next year isn’t likely to bring relief.

In the past, high gas prices in the United States have gone hand-in-hand with economic good times, making them less damaging to family finances. Now prices are high despite slow economic growth and weak demand.

Experts attribute this to the demand for crude oil rising globally, especially in the developing nations of Asia and Latin America, and putting the squeeze on the U.S., where unemployment is high and many people who have jobs aren’t getting raises.

Syria says it will accept international monitors

BEIRUT — Bowing to international pressure, including from longtime ally Russia, Syria on Monday accepted an Arab League plan to allow international monitors into the country to observe a situation that anti-government activists call a bloody crackdown on dissent.

Syria has agreed to implement a proposal signed last month by permitting an initial group of monitors to enter within 72 hours and discussing plans for a total of 500 observers to operate across the country.

The agreement comes as Syria’s international isolation deepens amid attempts to suppress a nine-month-old uprising, which, according to United Nations estimates, has left at least 5,000 people dead. On Monday, activists reported that more than 70 soldiers were shot near the northwestern city of Idlib while trying to defect, though it was not possible to verify the figure.

Iraq orders vice president’s arrest after TV ‘confessions’

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Shiite-led government issued an arrest warrant Monday for the Sunni vice president, accusing him of running a hit squad that assassinated government and security officials — extraordinary charges a day after the last U.S. troops left the country.

The vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, left Baghdad on Sunday for the semiautonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan, presumably hoping that Kurdish authorities would not turn him in. Investigative judges banned him the same day from traveling outside of Iraq.

The move against the country’s highest-ranking Sunni official marked a sharp escalation in sectarian tensions, raising fears of a resurgence of large-scale bloodshed. Although many Iraqis welcomed the American withdrawal, ending the nine-year U.S. war, there are also considerable fears here that violence will worsen.

“Iraq is slipping into its worst nightmares now, and Iraqi people will pay a high price because of the struggle among political blocs after the pullout of U.S. troops,” said Baghdad-based political analyst Kadhum al-Muqdadi, a Shiite.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Obama administration had expressed its concerns to all of the parties involved regarding the issuing of the warrant.

“We are urging all sides to work to resolve differences peacefully and through dialogue in a manner consistent with the rule of law and the democratic political process,” Carney said.

Sunnis suspected the charges against al-Hashemi were politically motivated. Al-Hashemi is an old rival of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the arrest order came two days after the main Sunni-backed political bloc, Iraqiya, suspended its participation in parliament because al-Maliki refused to give up control over key posts.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite, has made a series of moves in recent months to consolidate his hold on power. Hundreds of former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party have been rounded up, allegedly as security threats, although no proof has been given. In Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown, arrests have become so commonplace that whenever a police car shows up, young men flee from the street.

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