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Report calls for ad limits, taxes to curb youth drinking

By Wire services
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 11, 2003

Underage drinking is such a dangerous and costly threat to society that the nation should impose higher taxes on alcohol and place tough restrictions on advertising to curb the problem, a new report said Wednesday.

The federal Institute of Medicine report estimates that underage drinking costs the United States about $53-billion a year from traffic accidents, fatalities and violence.

Yet the government spent $71-million to prevent underage drinking in 2000 - a paltry amount compared to the $1.8-billion spent to deter youth from illegal drugs.

Alcohol is the most abused drug in the country, and the number of children trying it before they reach 18 has doubled in the past decade. About 4.1-million kids under 18 tried alcohol in 2000.

The institute called on the federal government to impose new taxes on alcohol, particularly beer because it's the beverage most chosen by youth. The institute didn't give a specific amount, but noted that, adjusted for inflation, "alcoholic beverages are far cheaper today than they were in the 1960s and 1970s."

Schwarzenegger holds education event

SAN JOSE, Calif. - With polls showing education a top concern of California voters, Arnold Schwarzenegger held an education summit featuring his famous mother-in-law and the teaching hero who inspired the movie Stand and Deliver.

Schwarzenegger addressed reporters after the meeting, discussing some principles he said would guide his approach to education.

"Education has been always a passion of mine," Schwarzenegger said. "What we want to accomplish here in California is we want to get our education straightened out."

The panel included Jaime Escalante, a former East Los Angeles math teacher who was the basis for the 1988 film Stand and Deliver; Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics; former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan; and several business leaders, principals and superintendents.

Catholic leaders against gay marriage

Leaders of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops gave "general support" to amending the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as a union of a man and woman. They also condemned legalized same-sex unions. The 50-member administrative committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops acted after a Vatican call to defend traditional marriage and the decision of Canada's government to draft a new law defining marriage as being between "two people."

Canadian bishops encouraged Catholics in that nation to lobby against the measure "in a spirit of love and deep respect for all people."

Elsewhere . . .

NEW YORK TIMES SCANDAL: Jayson Blair, the former New York Times reporter who resigned amid accusations of fraud and plagiarism, has a book deal with New Millennium Press. The book, Burning Down My Master's House, is scheduled to come out in March 2004. . . . Allan M. Siegal, who led the New York Times' internal investigation into the Blair scandal, has been appointed the paper's first standards editor. He will oversee the creation of guidelines for the use of anonymous sources, bylines and datelines.

WASHINGTON SNIPER CASE: A judge denied a request by sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad's lawyers to close a hearing on the admissibility of potentially inflammatory evidence. But Circuit Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. said he will take as many precautions as possible to prevent unnecessary disclosure of sensitive information. . . . A book by former Montgomery County, Md., police Chief Charles Moose, Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the Serial Sniper, will be in stores Monday.

SHIPPED MAN CHARGED: Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against a man who climbed into a crate and had himself shipped by air from New York to Dallas to visit his parents. Charles D. McKinley was charged with stowing away on a cargo jet. He could face up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

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