News In Brief

The US

The Census Bureau released an in-depth study of poverty in the US from 1993 to 1995. It said 30.3 percent of Americans lived below the poverty line for at least two months during the three-year period, but just 5.3 percent stayed poor for two full years. In 1994, on average, 15.4 percent of the population was poor each month, and a total of about 22 percent - some 55 million people - was poor for at least two months. The government considers a three-person family poor if its income is below $13,650.

July was the hottest month the world has seen since reliable record-keeping began more than a century ago, The Washington Post reported. It said an analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association put the average global temperature last month at 61.7 degrees F., about 1.26 degrees above normal for July and nearly half a degree higher than the previous all-time monthly record set in July 1997. July is the seventh consecutive month in which global temperatures broke the previous record for the period, a trend the White House has cited repeatedly in pressing for action to curb global warming.

Administration officials said they will likely ask Congress for funds to improve security at 280 US missions and embassies around the world. The embassies targeted Friday in Kenya and Tanzania had tight security, but didn't meet standards put into effect in 1986 after a series of terrorist attacks on US facilities overseas.

President Clinton's favorability rating among women fell to 53 percent at the end of July from 60 percent in January, a Fox News poll indicated. Women's votes have been instrumental in his presidential victories. On "Fox News Sunday," National Organization for Women President Patricia Ireland joined those urging the president to address the nation about the Monica Lewinsky case. Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein said on "Meet the Press" that independent counsel Kenneth Starr's relentless probe of the sex-and- perjury allegations is endangering the presidency.

Seven protesters were arrested for demonstrating against loggers' plans to clear-cut several environmentally sensitive areas in northern California, police said. They were cited for trespass after trying to block Pacific Lumber Co. from beginning work on tracts of land bordering the Mattole River in Humboldt County. Environmentalists say the logging will destabilize soggy hillsides, sending more soil into the river and harming nearby property.

Millionaire Steve Fossett was a third of the way across the South Atlantic in the fourth day of his attempt to become the first person to circle the earth nonstop by balloon. He is making his fourth attempt to break one of aviation's last barriers. The only complication reported so far has been a small fire that singed Fossett's eyebrows and wrist. He hopes to complete his course in 14 to 18 days. The flight can be followed on the Internet at solospirit.wustl.edu.

About 1,500 US and Mexican citizens ended a four-day walk to oppose construction of a low-level nuclear-waste dump in Sierra Blanca, Texas, about 30 miles from the Mexican border and some 75 miles east of El Paso. The dump, which could be licensed by a state regulatory agency as early as Sept. 15, would receive mostly medical waste. Opponents say it would be located on a fault line and could leak radioactive material into the Rio Grande.

Officials in Reno, Nev., blamed alcohol and gangs for a weekend riot that resulted in 130 arrests, a few minor injuries, and some property damage. The violence marred the city's Hot August Nights celebration, an annual classic-auto and '50s-music festival.

The Star of India, the world's oldest active merchant ship, received the World Ship Trust Award, a top honor for historic preservation. The Star, built on Britain's Isle of Man in 1863, went for a brief sail out of San Diego Harbor to celebrate the occasion. The only other US ship to receive the award was the USS Constitution, in 1987.

The World

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a world conference on terrorism to combat "abominable and cowardly acts" like the US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Rescue efforts continued at the two sites, and up to 210 people were reported dead. Investigators said the use of a powerful, rare explosive in the Nairobi attack indicated that a large organization or state may have orchestrated the bombings.

Fueling concerns that the week-old Congo civil war could turn into a regional conflict, the government accused Uganda and Rwanda of escalating the the violence. Congo's information minister said Uganda had sent solders and tanks into the country to support the Tutsi-led rebellion against President Laurent Kabila. He also charged that Rwanda had executed Congolese Army officers and rounded up civilians in rebel-controlled areas. His allegations could not be independently confirmed.

Severe medical and food shortages produced by UN sanctions have caused the death of almost 1.4 million people in Iraq, the country's health minister said. In a bid to convince the UN to lift sanctions it imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Umeed Madhat Mubarak produced government statistics showing a huge increase in Iraq's death and infant-mortality rates since 1989.

Afghanistan's violent civil war triggered a stormy row between Iran and Pakistan, which is widely believed to be the major support for a hard-line Afghan Islamic militia that now controls most of the country. After these Taliban troops seized what had been the last major Afghan city outside its control, a spokesman confirmed they were holding 30 Iranians accused of supplying weapons to opposition forces. Iran's foreign minister charged the Taliban with holding 11 Iranian diplomats hostage, and he demanded Pakistan arrange their immediate release. The accusation was denied by a Taliban official.

Moving to end turbulence following Cambodia's July 26 election, officials said there was "no real evidence" to prove opposition claims that the voting process was riddled with fraud. After the voting, Cambodia's election committee agreed to recount ballots and investigate more than 300 complaints from opposition parties, who said leader Hun Sen's victory was achieved through fraud.

Democracy activists in Thailand urged Burma's military rulers to free 18 foreigners detained for handing out leaflets that were "inciting unrest." The detainees, from America, Asia and Australia, were sent to Burma by a Bangkok-based alliance opposed to its government. Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi recently stepped up pressure on the military to open a dialogue with her, setting an Aug. 21 deadline for it to convene parliament.

Voters went to the polls in the tiny Caribbean island of Nevis to decide whether it should become the smallest country in the Americas and secede from a union with its neighbor, St. Kitts. Secessionists among the island's 9,000 residents said they have been treated as second-class citizens by St. Kitts, population 32,000. Caribbean and US officials warned that secession could leave the 36-square-mile island unable to pay its bills and vulnerable to drug cartels.

Colombian President Andres Pastrana shook up the nation's military command. Although the armed forces had been caught off guard by a rebel offensive last week, the changes were not expected so soon after Pastrana's inauguration Friday.

Etceteras

"These statistics portray poverty as a trap door for a few and a revolving door for many." - From a new Census Bureau report on Americans living below the poverty line.

When Ginny the circus elephant packed her trunk, farewelled her owners, and fled into the Australian outback, the entire town of Dunolly, Victoria - all 650 of them - threw themselves into the rescue effort, especially the children, who received a day off from school. It was, however, a helicopter that spotted the 1-1/4 ton truant, after she spent more than 20 hours on the run. Ginny was returned to her owners, safe and sound, but not before a carnival-like atmosphere rubbed off on the good folk of Dunolly, who greeted an influx of would-be elephant catchers with open arms. "It's the best thing since the gold-rush," a local baker enthused.

Friday in San Francisco, people came (with apologies to Shakespeare) not to bury Caesar, but to praise. Readers will perhaps recall an item in this space last month about the California Legislature overruling state health officials and making it legal again to put Caesar salad on the menu. To celebrate, Mayor Willie Brown and hundreds of Bay Area residents ate tons of the salad from a bowl 11 feet in diameter. We can assume all were informed, as the new law requires, that the eggs were raw.

The Day's List

What College Students Will Be Taking to School

In a recent national survey commissioned by Sprint Personal Communications Services, college students were asked to list the five most-important items of technology they take to school. Computers - cited by 66 percent of the respondents - were by far the most-frequently mentioned. The 10 items referred to most often - and the percentage of students who noted using each of them:

1. Computer 66%

2. Calculator 48%

3. Radio/stereo 41%

4. Television 35%

5. Wireless/mobile phone 20%

6. Credit card 16%

7. Tape recorder 13%

8. Pager 10%

9. Calling card 10%

10. Electronic day planner 7%

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