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Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, April 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Once upon a time, 20 percent down payments were required for home loans. It showed financial discipline on a number of levels. Eschewing the commonsense guideline led to the housing bubble that burst and nearly destroyed the U.S. economy. Now, some once again are arguing against requiring any down payment; rules limiting foreclosures make the practice “superfluous,” they argue. Translation: Easy money? No worries. Taxpayers will bail everybody out — again. ... The true magnitude of the multibillion-dollar boondoggle-in-the-making that is California's high-speed rail project is put into perfect perspective by a new Reason Foundation study: It “cannot be delivered at the cost promised to taxpayers, is based upon a business model incapable of delivering on its legal requirements and is justified by proponents based upon unachievable benefits.” Other than that, it's a great idea. ... The number of unaccountable slush fund checking accounts used by Pennsylvania House leaders has been reduced from 100 to 36. Out in that foreign country known as Harrisburg — you know, the place where the folks think taxpayers are imbeciles — a spokesman has the audacity to ask, “What's the problem?” Defending the reduction of something that shouldn't even exist is like a bank robber defending the fact that he's cut down on the number of banks he's robbing. Yet another reason to keep referring to Pennsylvania by its all-but-official nickname — the Commonwealth of Corruption.

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