Census Bureau Tests Option

For Phone-In Response

The Census Bureau wants to know whether response to the census would improve if people could call in their answers rather than mail back questionnaires.

The phone-in option will be offered as part of a test survey the bureau will mail in two weeks to 250,000 homes nationwide, the bureau said. Also being tested are changes to questions about respondents' backgrounds, including the deletion of the "some other race" category as a response to a question about race and ethnicity.

Results of the test, due out next year, will be used to help prepare for the 2010 count.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Prompts an Ad Campaign

More than 6 million Americans abused pain relievers in 2001, a government survey published yesterday shows, and the numbers are growing every year.

In response, the government is starting a modest advertising campaign aimed at educating people about the risks of abusing prescription drugs, officials said.

The growth is driven, in part, by the availability of trendy new pain relievers such as OxyContin, the survey, published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found.

The statistics come from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, which questions people 12 and over about drug use.

Senate Democrats Propose

$900 Million in Aid for Africa

Senate Democrats proposed $900 million in emergency relief for Africa yesterday, primarily to help the estimated 38 million people they said face starvation.

The Africa Famine Relief Act, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle, (D-S.D.), includes $600 million in food aid, $200 million for disaster assistance and $100 million to combat HIV and AIDS, complications of which kill thousands of Africans daily.

One option to advance the proposal is to attach part of it to a $390 billion spending bill for nondefense programs that the Senate is debating. The plan also could be added to a different spending bill.

Lawmakers Approve Funds

For N. Korea Nuclear Project

Lawmakers agreed yesterday to an administration request to provide $3.5 million to continue funding the U.S. share of administrative costs for the organization that is building two nuclear reactors in North Korea. Since the crisis began over a clandestine nuclear weapons project discovered in North Korea, some lawmakers have pressed to end all funding to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO).

The administration already has stopped fuel oil shipments to North Korea. An administration official said yesterday that the request should not indicate whether the United States will support continuing the reactor project -- some officials are seeking to end it -- but rather the necessity of keeping the U.S. seat on the KEDO board that will vote on the matter. Lawmakers inserted a provision that will require President Bush to certify that spending the money is in the interest of national security.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports