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Archive for Friday, April 23, 2004

Briefly

April 23, 2004

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Washington, D.C.

House OKs bill to speed elections in wake of terror

Fearing that terrorists might target Congress, the House on Thursday approved a bill to set up speedy special elections if 100 or more of its members are killed.

The House, in a 306-97 vote, put aside for now the larger issue of whether the Constitution should be amended to allow for temporary appointments in the event that an attack caused mass fatalities among lawmakers.

Thursday's vote came two and a half years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the crash in Pennsylvania of United Flight 93, a plane that many believe was destined for the U.S. Capitol.

The measure would require special elections within 45 days of the House speaker confirming that a catastrophic event had left at least 100 of the 435 seats vacant.

Jerusalem

Arafat expels militants from compound, fearing raid

Yasser Arafat expelled 20 wanted militants from his compound Thursday in an apparent bid to forestall an Israeli raid, a further sign the Palestinian leader fears he might become a target himself.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, meanwhile, backed away from a promise to honor an upcoming vote by his Likud party on a proposal to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, senior government officials said. A new poll showed shrinking support for the plan.

Israel has stepped up attacks on Gaza militants in advance of the proposed withdrawal, killing Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin last month and new leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi on Saturday.

London

Study: Anti-soda programs help reduce youth obesity

School programs discouraging carbonated drinks appear to be effective in reducing obesity among children, a new study suggests -- the first research to document that such programs work.

A high intake of sweetened carbonated drinks probably contributes to childhood obesity, and there is a growing movement against soft drinks in schools. But until now there have been no studies showing that efforts to cut children's soft drink consumption would do any good.

The study, outlined this week on the Web site of the British Medical Journal, found that a one-year campaign discouraging sweetened and diet soft drinks led to a decrease in the percentage of elementary children who were overweight or obese.

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