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The nation in brief

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2000

Minorities have most new HIV infections

ATLANTA -- Blacks and Hispanics accounted for nearly 70 percent of new HIV infections from July 1999 to June of this year, a striking change in what was once known as a disease of gay white men, the U.S. surgeon general said Tuesday.

Part of the problem is that the groups hardest to reach in prevention campaigns -- high school dropouts, former inmates and the homeless -- are disproportionately black and Hispanic, Dr. David Satcher said.

Of an estimated 40,000 new infections over the 1999-2000 period, blacks accounted for more than 50 percent and Hispanics accounted for 19 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sales of Explorers rise 1.1 percent, Ford says

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co., battered by bad publicity amid the Firestone tire recall, said sales of Explorer sport utility vehicles were up 1.1 percent in September compared with the same month a year ago. Ford said it sold 37,510 Explorers last month.

VENEZUELAN SUITS: Venezuelan victims of accidents involving Ford vehicles and Bridgestone/Firestone tires have filed or are filing 35 lawsuits against the companies in a Florida federal court, a lawyer said Tuesday.

The victims, many of them relatives of people who died in accidents, are seeking punitive as well as compensatory damages, said Victor Diaz, a Miami lawyer handling the cases. He declined to say how much his clients were seeking.

John Lennon's killer is denied parole

ATTICA, N.Y. -- State parole officials rejected a bid for freedom Tuesday for ex-Beatle John Lennon's killer, saying Mark David Chapman hadn't lost his need for publicity, a drive that fueled his "most vicious and violent act."

It was Chapman's first attempt for parole stemming from the December 1980 shooting death. Chapman won't be eligible for parole for two more years.

Last orchard saved in Johnny Appleseed's town

LEOMINSTER, Mass. -- The last apple orchard in Johnny Appleseed's hometown isn't going to be bulldozed for development after all.

The owner of Sholan Farms has agreed to sell the 169-acre property, including the 52-acre orchard, to the city for $4.75-million rather than convert the land to 161 residential lots.

The apple trees at Sholan Farms weren't planted by John Chapman, who was born here in 1774 and helped introduce apple trees to the Midwest.

Separated twins reported in critical condition

SEATTLE -- The parents of Charity Mae and Kathleen Lincoln chose to buy them separate beds, even though the 7-month-old twins were joined from breastbone to hip.

"They are two different people," Vaneice Lincoln said Tuesday after her daughters were separated during 31 hours of surgery at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center. "For us, it only made sense. If it wasn't detrimental to their health, they should be separated."

The twins -- each in her own crib -- were stable and in critical condition Tuesday. Neither has shown any significant complications, said Dr. Richard Molteni, the hospital's medical director.

Also Tuesday

L.A. TRANSIT STRIKE: Mechanics refused to cross bus and rail operators' picket lines despite their union's call to go back to work on the 18th day of the Los Angeles County transit strike.

The show of solidarity came as talks resumed to settle the strike, which has left 450,000 people without most bus or train service. Mayor Richard Riordan said he was confident an agreement with the United Transportation Union could be reached by today.

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