News In Brief

FASHION STATEMENT She has been a teen queen, an astronaut, and a UN ambassador. She has worn swimsuits, peasant dresses, and ballroom gowns. And now, for her 40th year, she's to be given a whole new makeover. "She" could only be Barbie, right? Right. The latest edition of the doll will be available with a butterfly tattoo on the stomach. Mattel Inc., the manufacturer, concedes this may inspire young buyers to want tattoos, too, but says it's necessary to keep up with fashion.

DIALING FOR DOLLARS If you're a teenager or know someone who is, perhaps the following should give you pause. Researchers in Australia have reported on a new phenomenon: debt collectors chasing thousands of 18- and 19-year-olds. It seems college students with easy-to-get cell phones and lots of friends are running up huge bills they can't pay - apparently without a thought for the long-term effect on their credit ratings.

Women's views of religion are strengthening, poll finds

The Center for Gender Equality has released a survey of 1,000 American women 18 or older, responding to questions about religion - from abortion to religious activism. A comparison of responses to the poll, conducted last year, with surveys taken in 1992 and 1996 indicates an increasing affinity for religion and religious activism. Last year's poll showed 76 percent of women think religious leaders and groups have a "somewhat" or "very positive" effect on national affairs. Respondents also said they worried little about the influence of such groups on government, politics, and public schools. A comparison of the 1998 results with those of the earlier polls on four questions:

Mixing religion and politics

'92: 37% favor '98: 50% favor

Making abortion illegal, except for rape, incest, or saving a life

'96: 61% favor '98: 53% favor

Religion seen as "very important" in their lives"

'96: 69% '98: 75%

Refer to themselves as "born again" or evangelical Christians

'96: 45% '98: 51%

- Associated Press

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