News In Brief

BUT VIDEO RENTALS DID OK A rising tide lifts all boats ... goes one oft-quoted economic theory. Tell that to the nation's book-sellers. Late last week, the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) announced the results of its 1998 consumer survey. Despite these booming times, the BISG found adult Americans bought 30 million fewer books last year than in 1997 - the first decline since such tracking began in 1990. Said a spokeswoman: "In good times, consumers seem to spend their money on other kinds of entertainment."

ASSUMING THE WORST Then there's a recent survey of married women aged 20 to 35 in Germany. Sixty-one percent of respondents said that when the men in their lives no longer kiss them before leaving for work, it's a sure sign they're taking their affections elsewhere. More than 50 percent said the same about husbands who change their habit of not shaving on weekends.

Some House members gave staffs big goodbye bonuses

All but five of 42 House members who left office early this year gave their staffers departing bonuses, the Associated Press reported. The total reached nearly $1.5 million. The practice is legal but sharply criticized by taxpayer advocates and watchdog groups, who say leftover office allocations should be returned to the US Treasury. The departing members who gave the most in bonuses:

1. Bill Hefner (D) North Carolina $119,100

2. Gerald Solomon (R) New York 95,400

3. Jay Johnson (D) Wisconsin 85,200

4. Barbara Kennelly (D) Connecticut 77,400

5. Michael Pappas (R) New Jersey 74,500

6. Vic Fazio (D) California 72,500

7. Robert Smith (R) Oregon 69,400

8. Newt Gingrich (R) Georgia 66,500

9. Scott Klug (R) Wisconsin 56,100

10. Henry Gonzalez (D) Texas 49,600

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