In Washington Mexico scheduled to dump water into Rio...

NATIONAL DIGEST

March 20, 2001

In Washington

Mexico scheduled to dump water into Rio Grande

Mexico will deliver nearly 200 billion gallons of water into the Rio Grande this year as part of a repayment timetable announced yesterday at the White House.

U.S. and Mexican officials also agreed on an unspecified "framework for reaching agreements" on future deliveries owed by Mexico under a 1944 treaty governing waters in the Rio Grande, Colorado and Tijuana rivers.

Under the U.S.-Mexico Water Treaty, Mexico is required to release some 350,000 acre feet - or 114 billion gallons - of water from six tributaries to the Rio Grande annually. In exchange, the United States delivers 1.5 million acre feet of water per year from the Colorado River.

$105 million set aside for public housing utilities

The federal government is earmarking $105 million to help public housing authorities pay utility bills after extended cold spells and power shortages in some areas.

Many utility bills are 18 percent higher than what housing authorities projected last year, Housing Secretary Mel Martinez said yesterday. In a few cases, the bills have jumped 50 percent.

Housing authorities in Los Angeles, suffering under a severe power shortage, have reported a 25 percent higher utility bill than what was expected. About $55 million of the $105 million will be put into a fund used to meet the total cost of subsidizing the nation's 3,100 public housing authorities. The remaining $50 million will be doled out to housing authorities needing help the most.

Medical `smart bomb' seeks, kills strep bacteria

WASHINGTON - Scientists said yesterday they have discovered the medical equivalent of a "smart bomb" to kill the type of bacteria responsible for strep throat and other infections.

Researchers at Rockefeller University said they found a way to kill streptococci bacteria on contact using enzymes produced by tiny viruses, or bacteriophages, that infect bacterial cells. The technique may not cause the bacteria to evolve resistant strains as antibiotics do.

"It's what we call targeted killing, in which we kill only the disease bacteria without disturbing the normal bacteria needed for health, unlike antibiotics, which kill everything," said Vincent Fischetti, who led the research.

Inflatable toys recalled for possible choking risk

WASHINGTON - Eight companies are recalling about 835,000 inflatable toys because of a tiny balloon that can detach, posing a choking hazard.

The firms announced the recall yesterday, in coordination with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. A 3-year-old boy inhaled the balloon tongue that detached from a toy animal and it lodged in his nose, the Safety Commission reported. Doctors had to remove it.

The vinyl toys are about 3 inches long and come in 12 different styles, most of which are animals. Toy stores, doctors offices, carnivals and circuses sold these toys from October 1998 through March 2001 for about $1.

In the Nation

Bombing suspect intent on more killing, FBI says

NEW YORK - A man charged with loading a bomb onto a truck that was used to blow up a U.S. embassy in Africa still was intent on killing Americans when the FBI caught up with him a year later in South Africa, an FBI agent testified yesterday.

"He said he would have continued efforts to kill Americans and participate in bombings" if he had not been caught, Agent Abigail Perkins said of Khalfan Khamis Mohamed as she testified at his trial. The FBI caught Mohamed in Cape Town after collecting evidence prosecutors say proves he played a central role in the Aug. 7, 1998, bombing of the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

That blast and an almost simultaneous suicide truck bomb attack at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Track at derailment site was inspected hours before

NODAWAY, Iowa - An inspector said yesterday that the stretch of railroad where an Amtrak derailment killed one person and injured 96 others had been inspected just hours before the crash.

The train was traveling from Chicago to Emeryville, Calif., with 210 people aboard when passengers were slammed into the sides of their cars shortly before midnight Saturday.

Federal crash investigator Ted Turpin said investigators found pieces of broken rail, but hadn't determined if the steel fractured before or during the derailment. Seven people remained hospitalized yesterday.

Cosmonauts protest exclusion of `space tourist'

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Two cosmonauts who are supposed to fly to the international space station next month on a Russian rocket boycotted a training session yesterday to protest NASA's exclusion of a California millionaire from their crew.

Dennis Tito, 60, who hopes to become the world's first space tourist, showed up at the Johnson Space Center in Houston along with four Russian cosmonauts and one European astronaut. Tito is not approved by NASA to go on the mission; Russian officials say NASA should have no authority over who they launch on Russian Soyuz rockets.

Tito, the founder of an investment firm, has deposited millions into an escrow account to be paid to Russian space officials once he has launched. The lift-off date is April 30.

Aleutian goose removed from endangered list

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The Aleutian Canada goose was formally removed from the Endangered Species List yesterday, four decades after the bird was believed to be extinct.

The de-listing capped a 38-year recovery program that included breeding of captive pairs, protection of winter habitat in California and Oregon and eradication of foxes that lingered on the islands long after their ancestors were brought there in the mid-18th century by Russian fur traders.

The small goose is only the 10th animal species in U.S. history to have recovered sufficiently to warrant removal from the list.

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