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Archive for Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Nation briefs

March 13, 2001

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Washington, D.C.

Airport forecast: Busier

The Federal Aviation Administration expects the number of flights to increase by more than a third in the next decade, further burdening an air traffic system struggling to keep pace with all the planes now flying. The number of passengers is expected to exceed 1 billion.

The FAA, which releases the forecasts in conjunction with its annual aviation conference, predicted that the number of takeoffs and landings would rise from almost 26 million in 2000 to 36 million in 2012, a 39 percent increase.

The number of passengers flying each year on U.S. airlines is projected to rise from 733 million in 2000 to 1.2 billion in 2012. This growth is expected to put new pressure on an already overburdened airline system.

"The system is close to a saturation point," said Daniel D'Agostino, president of the Newark Tower local of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "There are plenty of routes up in the air. The unfortunate thing is these planes have come down to the ground. Unless they build more runways, the capacity of the airports aren't going to increase."

Florida

Astronauts finish wiring job

Two spacewalking astronauts floated outside early today to finish a critical wiring job on the international space station.

Andrew Thomas and Paul Richards took on the work that was left undone during Sunday's record-breaking nine-hour spacewalk by two other astronauts.

The wiring which involved hooking up a bundle of delicate fiber-optic connectors was considered the most difficult task of the two spacewalks. These wires must be connected for power and data to flow to the massive robot arm that will be delivered to the space station next month.

New York

University gift sets record

An anonymous donor has pledged a no-strings-attached $360 million to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute the biggest donation to a university in U.S. history.

RPI, a private university in Troy with about 4,500 undergraduates and 1,800 graduate students, was ranked 49th among national universities in 2001 by U.S. News & World Report. Its undergraduate engineering program was ranked 17th in the nation.

Its current endowment is valued at about $750 million.

Washington, D.C.

Benefit cuts increase hunger

One of every three childless, able-bodied adults experienced moderate to severe hunger after they dropped out of the food-stamp program or were cut off from benefits, new government studies in Illinois and the Phoenix area show.

The studies, sponsored by the Agriculture Department, surveyed people who left the food-stamp program in 1997, a year after Congress passed a sweeping overhaul of the nation's welfare system that imposed time limits and work requirements for able-bodied adults aged 18 to 50 without children.

In both Illinois and Phoenix, one-fourth of all people who left the food-stamp program were classified as "food-insecure," with either moderate or severe hunger.

A third of childless, able-bodied adults fit that description. Ten percent of the childless adults in Illinois and 8 percent of those in Phoenix experienced severe hunger after leaving the program. Severe hunger is defined as an extensive reduction in food intake, such as going entire days without food.

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