Archive for Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Nation briefs

December 20, 2000



DDT settlement reached

Companies behind a plant that spewed 110 tons of the pesticide DDT into the ocean near Los Angeles will pay $73 million to compensate for any environmental damage.

At issue was whether the Montrose Chemical Corp. or the federal Superfund program would pay to clean up 17 square miles of ocean floor off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The pollution came from the now-demolished Montrose plant in Torrance, which produced DDT between 1947 and 1971.

DDT, widely used in the United States until it was banned about 30 years ago, is linked to cancer and reproductive problems in humans and continues to contaminate fish and kill bald eagle chicks.


ACLU plans 'Net filter lawsuit

Schools and libraries must begin using Internet filtering software next year to protect children from pornography or risk losing federal money thanks to a mandate approved by lawmakers before they left town.

The requirement is raising concerns among free speech advocates who say it violates the Constitution and, perhaps ironically, from software makers worried that filtering technology is not a cure-all for protecting kids.

"This is a mandated censorship system by the federal government," said Chris Hansen, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which plans to sue in an effort to block the law.


Teacher tests required

Ohio education officials say the state has become the first to require all new teachers to pass a classroom performance test to get their professional licenses. Beginning in 2002, new teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade must pass the Praxis III test. It will be given during a teacher's first two years on the job, when instructors work under a provisional license. Evaluators will observe teachers in classrooms, interview them and analyze lesson plans. Teachers must get 38 out of 57 possible points to pass the test.


Hollywood critic gets R rating

Sen. Orrin Hatch, long a critic of violence in Hollywood, has a cameo in the new Michael Douglas movie "Traffic," which includes nudity, sex, drug use and profane language.

"I'm glad I did it," the Utah Republican said. The R-rated movie, which has received high praise from critics, has an anti-drug message.

"I don't see how they could have made it without violence and still accurately portray the drug culture and how degrading it is," Hatch told the Deseret News.


Caffeine, miscarriage linked

Five cups of coffee per day more than doubles a pregnant woman's risk of a miscarriage, according to perhaps the most rigorous study yet to focus on the possible link between caffeine and miscarriage.

The research team in Sweden and the United States, which was to publish its findings in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the equivalent of one-to-three cups of American coffee increases the risk of miscarriage by 30 percent. Three-to-five cups raises the risk by 40 percent. Five cups or more yields more than double the risk.

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