World and Nation

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Some Parents Oppose ObamaSpeech to Students

President Barack Obama’s plan to deliver a speech to public school students on Tuesday has sparked a revolt among conservative parents, who have accused the president of trying to indoctrinate their children with socialist ideas and are asking school officials to excuse the children from listening.

The uproar over the speech, in which Obama intends to urge students to work hard and stay in school, has been acute in Texas, where several major school districts, under pressure from parents, have laid plans to let children opt out of lending the president an ear.

“The thing that concerned me most about it was it seemed like a direct channel from the president of the United States into the classroom, to my child,” said Brett Curtiss, an engineer from Pearland, Texas, who said he would keep his three children home. “I don’t want our schools turned over to some socialist movement.”

The White House has said the speech will stress the importance of education and hard work in school, both to the individual and to the nation. The message is neither partisan, nor compulsory, officials said.

Bankruptcy Judges’ Frustration with Mortgage Servicers Is Growing

Bobbi Giguere had no luck in securing a loan modification from her mortgage servicer, Wells Fargo. For months, she had sent the bank the financial documents it requested to process her modification. But each time she called to check on the request, she was told to send her paperwork again.

“I submitted the paperwork three times, and nothing happened,” said Giguere, who worked as restaurant manager before losing her job.

On Thursday, she questioned a Wells Fargo official about the bank’s lack of response — under oath.

The spectacle of a bank executive being grilled by an ordinary homeowner was the result of an unusual decision by Judge Randolph J. Haines of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to summon an executive from Wells Fargo to appear in Giguere’s bankruptcy case.

At the hearing, Haines said: “This is certainly not an isolated case. The kind of story I hear from this debtor is one that I and other bankruptcy judges around the country are hearing over and over and over again.”

Children with Underlying Disorders Are Most Affected by Swine Flu

Federal health officials reported Thursday that at least 36 children in the United States had died of swine flu as of Aug. 8, including many who had underlying disorders of the nervous system. Some also had chronic lung disease, and one had leukemia.

But some of the children had been perfectly healthy, and died of bacterial infections with staph or strep that set in after the flu.

A report on the deaths was published online on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and discussed at a news conference by Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the centers’ director.

The report said the confirmed death count among people of all ages was 477 as of Aug. 8, but it focused on the toll on children. The 36 children who died ranged in age from two months to 17 years, with a median age of nine years. Nearly two-thirds had nervous system disorders like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or developmental delays. Children with nerve and muscle problems may be at high risk for complications from the flu because they cannot cough hard enough to clear their airways.