News In Brief

A majority of Americans favor President Bush's proposed defense shield against enemy missiles, results of a new poll found. The survey for the Council on Foreign Relations showed 51 percent of respondents support such a system, even after hearing the basic arguments against building it. The survey found 38 percent opposition to the shield. It polled 1,468 adults between May 15 and May 28. Fifty-one percent of respondents also said they view China as a serious problem for US foreign policy.

The likely reaction to Monday's US Supreme Court ruling on opening public schools to meetings of Christian students' clubs will be to bar all after-class gatherings until at least 5 p.m., the superintendent of the district at the center of the case said. Peter Livshin of Milford, N.Y., told the nearby Oneonta Daily Star he'll draft a proposed new policy for his school board to act on soon. The court, by a 6-to-3 vote, said public schools must be open to Christian gatherings if they permit other outside groups to use their facilities. Alternatively, Livshin said, the district could deny all meeting requests.

On average, the top 50 medicines prescribed for elderly Americans rose in price by almost twice the inflation rate last year, a group advocating new federal aid for retirees on fixed incomes said. In a new report, Families USA said the drugs cost 6.1 percent more in 2000 than in 1999; the overall inflation rate rose by 3.4 percent. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said the report implies that all elderly people pay the same prices for each dug.

Home-buyers have become more prompt in paying their mortgages on time, largely due to a slight drop in energy prices, a new survey found. The Mortgage Bankers Association of America said the delinquency rate for fixed as well as adjustable-rate loans on single- to four-unit residential properties dropped to 4.37 percent in the year's first quarter, the first decrease in a year.

Ten parishes battered by tropical storm Allison in Louisiana were declared a major disaster area by Bush, making them eligible for federal recovery aid. The storm swerved eastward Monday, dumping up to 10 inches of rain from Mississippi to central Florida. In Houston, where Allison is blamed for 19 deaths and $1 billion in property damage, fewer than 800 people reportedly were still in emergency shelters - out of a peak of 15,000.

Seven people were hurt, one of them critically, and electricity was cut off to more than 100,000 residents of the upper Midwest as violent thunderstorms and a suspected tornado struck the region. The damage was most severe in Benson, Minn., 130 miles west of Minneapolis.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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