Social Security raises will average $22 a month

Saturday, October 20, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Social Security recipients will get a 2.6 percent cost-of-living increase next year, about $22 a month for the average retiree. That's down from this year's 3.5 percent raise because inflation has slowed.

Monthly Social Security checks for 45.6 million Americans are adjusted annually to keep rising prices from eroding recipients' income. But dropping energy prices this year have kept inflation low.

The increase is automatic and is tied to changes in the Consumer Price Index, one of the government's chief measures of inflation.

"Inflation continues to be low, which is certainly good news for the elderly and disabled," said Larry G. Massanari, acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

Consumer prices rise 0.4 percent in September

WASHINGTON -- Consumer prices edged up in September pushed higher by the biggest jump in gasoline prices in 15 months, the government reported Friday.

The Consumer Price Index, a closely watched inflation gauge, rose by 0.4 percent last month, the largest increase since May, the Labor Department said. The advance came after a tiny, 0.1 percent increase in August.

The "core" rate of inflation, which excludes energy and food prices, rose in September for the third month in a row by 0.2 percent, suggesting that most other prices are well-controlled.

Anti-terrorism unit seizes smugglers' explosives

WARSAW, Poland -- A Polish police unit investigating suspected terrorist activities arrested three people Friday and seized 18 pounds of powerful explosives.

Police also seized 33 detonators, two guns and sophisticated equipment that could be used to set off explosives from great distances, said Pawel Biedziak, a spokesman for the national police service.

The suspects are a Polish man and woman, and a Czech man. Police have linked the two men to organized crime gangs in Poland, but Biedziak said there was no evidence they had ties to terrorist groups.

The three were arrested in western Poland near the German border by a special unit set up to investigate possible terrorist activity after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Air Force couple ties the knot via long-distance

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- It was not the wedding Senior Airman Sandra Beckman had imagined.

Standing before a speaker phone in a full-length floral dress, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she said "I do" on Tuesday to Staff Sgt. Max Parris, who was thousands of miles away.

The couple intended to be married Dec. 22, after Parris returned from deployment to Saudi Arabia. However, last month, he received orders for an assignment to England. By getting married right away, the couple could be eligible for a joint assignment.

Master Sgt. David Hipp, 347th Rescue Wing career adviser, remembered seeing a proxy marriage on an old episode of the television series, "M.A.S.H."

Netherlands Cabinet to permit sale of marijuana

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The Dutch Cabinet approved a bill Friday that would allow pharmacies to fill marijuana prescriptions and for the government to pay for them.

Parliament was expected to vote in the next few months on the proposal to put medicinal marijuana on the national health care plan. If the bill is passed by the 150-seat legislature, pharmacies would be supplied with "pharmaceutical quality" marijuana after testing by a government agency.

Although the sale of marijuana is technically illegal, Dutch authorities tolerate the sale of small amounts in hundreds of so-called "coffee shops" that operate openly. A gram of marijuana costs about $4.

--From wire reports

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