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News Brief 1

New Evidence Indicates Giant Meteor Created Chesapeake Bay

The Washington Post

Scientists presented compelling new evidence Monday that a giant meteor slammed into the Earth 35 million years ago on the spot we now call the lower Chesapeake Bay. The event may not only explain part of the topography of the mid-Atlantic region but possibly the origins of the bay itself.

People in the region appear to be living atop the remains of one of the great cataclysms in the planet's history. The impact was not as big as the one 65 million years ago in Mexico that apparently wiped out the dinosaurs, but it was still many times more powerful than if all the nuclear weapons on earth exploded at once. The meteor apparently hit directly in an area that was then under the ocean more than 140 miles southeast of Washington.

"If it happened today," said Christian Koeberl, a scientist at the University of Vienna who is studying rocks from the impact, "Washington would probably cease to exist." Koeberl was one of a group of scientists who presented the new evidence Monday at a scientific meeting at the Smithsonian Institution.

Shock waves probably rippled through the planet, and a massive wall of seawater inundated the coast. Animals everywhere on earth probably heard the explosion.

Dalai Lama's U.S. Visit Watched Closely by Chinese Officials

Los Angeles Times

The Dalai Lama began a three-day visit to Washington on Monday as the Clinton administration struggled to prevent Tibet from becoming a new sore spot between the United States and China in the same fashion that Taiwan did earlier this year.

Even before his arrival, Chinese officials had admonished the administration privately not to give the Tibetan leader too high a profile. "You would be correct in assuming we heard from (Chinese officials) on the subject," admitted one U.S. official. "They warned us that this is a political matter."

In the face of similar Chinese warnings in the past, both Presidents Bush and Clinton have met with the Dalai Lama in the White House - in effect paying homage to his personal stature and his role as a religious leader of Tibetan Buddhism, while always preserving the official U.S. position that Tibet is part of Chinese territory.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India from his homeland in 1959 after an unsuccessful revolt in Tibet against Chinese rule, likely will win entree to the White House again this year. However, his current visit takes on special sensitivity, because the politics in Washington, and between the administration and China, have both changed.

Delegates at Women's Conference Reach Agreement on Sex Education

Los Angeles Times

Toppling one of the last remaining hurdles at the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, delegates Monday struck a careful balance between the right of young people to have access to sex education and contraception and the right of their parents to know about it.

After 16 hours of debate, a subcommittee accommodated representatives of predominantly Roman Catholic and Muslim countries, who believe that sex education encourages premarital sex and sexually transmitted diseases, and others who insist that lack of education puts youths more at risk.

"It's a good compromise, because it balances the desire of parents to have a strong role and acknowledges disparate cultural traditions while protecting young people's right to confidential services," said Ruth Archibald, a Canadian delegate who headed the group's debate.

Delegates from Africa, worried about the rapid spread of AIDS among young people there, were instrumental in creating consensus.

"Half of those exposed to the HIV virus are under 25," said conference Secretary General Gertrude Mongella of Tanzania. "I feel saddened by the despair of African youth over their economic future and by the horrifying specter of HIV and AIDS, with the young most at risk," she said in a speech commemorating International Youth Day.