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The Supreme Court Monday struck down a California sentencing law that gives a judge discretion in meting out more prison time than the law stipulates. The decision, which reiterates the court's previously held position against increasing sentences based on factors not reviewed by a jury, could mean shorter sentences for thousands of California inmates. In this case, a former police officer convicted of sexually abusing his son will serve 12 years instead of 16.

Starting Tuesday, the federal government begins implementing a plan to require that all travelers, including US citizens, have a valid passport when flying between the US and Canada, Mexico, and other hemispheric neighbors. The rule, aimed at tightening border security, will eventually be extended to people entering the country via car or ship.

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The average price of self-serve, regular gasoline dropped nearly 14 cents over the past two weeks to $2.18 a gallon, according to the nationwide Lundberg survey. January is traditionally the month with the lowest driver demand for gasoline.

New York could lose its status as the world's financial capital within the next 10 years, and other US cities could also lose ground as financial service providers, according to a report commissioned by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D), who represents the state. The report by consulting group McKinsey Co. cites three factors for the decline: complicated regulatory rules, challenges in recruiting qualified workers, and a litigious legal environment. London, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo are surging ahead.

A study sponsored by the US Department of Energy released Monday encourages ramping up the mining of renewable geothermal power. Geothermal generates power by drilling wells that allow hot water or steam to drive turbines.

Princeton University will dip into its $13 billion endowment rather than raise tuition for the 2007-2008 academic year, the first time it has held the line in four decades, the Ivy League school announced Sunday. The move is likely to prompt other private universities to follow suit. Although Princeton's tuition will remain at $33,000, room and board will rise 4.2 percent.


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