Nation briefs 4/1/05

Friday, April 1, 2005

CDC: Students' tobacco use no longer declining

ATLANTA -- Tobacco use is no longer decreasing among middle and high school students, underscoring the need to fully implement smoking-prevention measures targeting youths, the federal government reported Thursday. After years of declining tobacco use among children starting in the late 1990s, new data indicates use of cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products among students in grades 6 to 12 has not changed in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The rates were about the same as those in a similar 2002 survey, the CDC said. The report disappointed tobacco opponents and health advocates.

Fortune cookie yields Powerball winners

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Dozens of people recently got an extra-special dessert with their Chinese food: a winning lottery number. A record 110 players won $500,000 and $100,000 prizes in Wednesday's Powerball drawing, most of whom apparently used the numbers included in a fortune-cookie message. Ordinarily the multistate lottery expects only four tickets to win at the Match 5 prize level. Several winners in a half-dozen states revealed that they got the winning number from a fortune cookie, said Doug Orr, marketing director with the West Des Moines-based Multi-State Lottery Association, which operates Powerball. The cookie was one number away from winning the $25.5 million jackpot: The winning numbers were: 22, 28, 32, 33 and 39, with 42 being the Powerball.

Massachusetts House approves stem cell bill

BOSTON -- The Massachusetts House passed a bill Thursday night that would give scientists more freedom to conduct embryonic stem cell research in the state. The House voted 117-37 for the bill, a day after the Senate approved it 35-2, giving the measure easily enough votes to override an expected veto by Gov. Mitt Romney. The bill would allow scientists to create cloned embryos and extract their stem cells for research into the potential treatment and cure of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and other conditions.

Former security adviser plans guilty plea

WASHINGTON -- Former national security adviser Sandy Berger will plead guilty to taking classified documents from the National Archives, the Justice Department said Thursday. Berger, who served in the Clinton administration, will enter the plea today in U.S. District Court in Washington, said Justice spokesman Bryan Sierra. The plea agreement, if accepted by a judge, ends a bizarre episode in which the man who once had access to the government's most sensitive intelligence was accused of sneaking documents out of the Archives in his clothing.

Governor of Maine signs gay rights bill

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Gov. John Baldacci on Thursday signed legislation that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination. Within hours, a religious group launched a campaign to overturn the new law. The law, which received final House and Senate passage Wednesday night, takes effect in late June.

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