World and Nation

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Money Starts to Trickle North as Mexicans Help Out Relatives

During the best of the times, Miguel Salcedo’s son, an illegal immigrant in San Diego, would be sending home hundreds of dollars a month to support his struggling family in Mexico. But at times like these, with the American economy out of whack and his son out of work, Salcedo finds himself doing what he never imagined he would have to do: wiring pesos north.

Unemployment has hit migrant communities in the United States so hard that a startling new phenomenon has been detected: instead of receiving remittances from relatives in the richest country on earth, some down-and-out Mexican families are scraping together what they can to support their unemployed loved ones in the United States.

“We send something whenever we have a little extra, at least enough so he can eat,” said Salcedo, who is from a small village here in the rural state of Oaxaca and works a variety of odd jobs to support his wife, his two younger sons and, now, his jobless eldest boy in California.

Car Sales Help Spur 1.4 Percent Rise in U.S. Retail Sales

Retail sales in the United States increased by a higher-than-expected 1.4 percent in October from September, helped by a strong demand for cars, the government said Monday.

Prices, however, were 1.7 percent below October a year ago.

The data gave hope to the idea that consumers might begin spending again even in the absence of government incentives like the cash-for-clunkers program. But the numbers were also high because the Commerce Department substantially revised downward its September data. It said sales were down 2.3 percent in September, not the 1.5 percent it had originally estimated.

The increases came in large part because of automobile sales, which climbed 7.4 percent. In September, after the government ended its clunkers program, auto sales fell 14.3 percent. When auto sales were excluded from the numbers, the overall rise was 0.2 percent, which was lower than expectations.

New Guidelines Suggest Fewer Mammograms

Most women should start regular breast cancer screening at age 50, not 40, according to new guidelines released Monday by a group that provides guidance to doctors, insurance companies and policymakers.

The recommendations reverse long-standing guidelines and are aimed at reducing harm from overtreatment, the group says. It says women age 50 to 74 should have mammograms less frequently — every two years, rather than every year. And it said doctors should stop teaching women to examine their breasts on a regular basis.

Just seven years ago, the same group, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, with different members, recommended that women have mammograms every one to two years starting at age 40. It found too little evidence to take a stand on breast self-examinations.

The task force is an independent panel of experts in prevention and primary care appointed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Its new guidelines, which are different from those of some professional and advocacy organizations, are published online in The Annals of Internal Medicine. They are likely to touch off yet another round of controversy over the benefits of screening for breast cancer.