USA

Texas and Florida are starting random drug testing this week to combat the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in high school sports. The states will conduct mandatory tests of a percentage of student athletes of both sexes for steroids, with the larger Texas program covering nearly 25,000 teenagers during this school year.

Watching television more than two hours a day early in life can lead to attention problems later in adolescence, according to a recent study. The roughly 40 percent increase in attention problems among heavy TV viewers was observed in both boys and girls.

In an attempt to improve the US's image abroad, the Navy is offering free medical care and infrastructure repair to nearly 20 poor nations across the Pacific and Latin America this year. With each mission costing an average of $20 million, Naval officers hope their efforts will yield stronger allies of the United States and reduce security threats.

The University of Mississippi tightened its smoking ban this school year, limiting the number of places where smokers can light up outdoors to designated areas in parking lots. All buildings on the campus, including residence halls, remain smoke-free.

After witnessing unsuccessful efforts to rescue trapped miners in Utah, West Virginia safety officials are beginning to stockpile equipment capable of boring holes large enough to efficiently drop supplies into mines.

As the school year starts, students nationwide are increasingly likely to be taught courses such as gym or science in a foreign language. More than double the number of American public school students are receiving a multilingual education than were a decade ago, according to the Associated Press. Such an education improves test scores across the board and strengthens American competitiveness in the global workforce, experts say. The French Embassy is providing support to the school.

Poet, a South Carolina corn-ethanol company, says its groundbreaking research will squeeze 27 percent more fuel from each acre of the crop by using cobs and stalks usually left behind in the field. Poet is slated to receive $80 million in grant money, part of the Bush administration's goal of making cellulosic ethanol competitive by 2012.

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