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News Briefs I

Dr. Spock, Author of Celebrated Child-Rearing Book, Dies

The los angeles times

Dr. Benjamin Spock, the pediatrician whose practical "Book of Baby and Child Care" became the bible of American parents for two generations and whose opposition to the Vietnam War made him one of the most controversial figures of the 1960s and 1970s, has died, it was reported Monday.

Spock was 94 when he died Sunday in his San Diego home, said Dr. Stephen Pauker, his physician. There was no specific cause of death reported, but in recent years, Spock had suffered a heart attack, stroke and several bouts of pneumonia. Just last month his wife was publicly asking money from friends and family to help pay his $10,000-a-month medical bills.

Spock won fame and fortune with his book, first published in 1946, which sold nearly 50 million copies in 30 languages and became America's second-best seller - with only the Bible outpacing it. It told parents to "trust yourself you know more than you think you do."

"He was really the first person to talk about listening to children, which is such a catch phrase now," British psychologist Penelope Leach, author of the best-selling "Baby and Child," said from her London office.

CIA Official Says Agency Was Aware of Drug Trafficking

the washington post
washington

The CIA did not "expeditiously" cut off relations with alleged drug traffickers who supported contra Nicaraguan rebels in the 1980s, CIA Inspector General Frederick R. Hitz told the House Intelligence Committee on Monday.

Hitz for the first time said publicly that the CIA was aware of allegations that "dozens of people and a number of companies connected in some fashion to the contra program" were involved in drug trafficking.

"Let me be frank," Hitz added, "there are instances where CIA did not, in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships with individuals supporting the contra program who were alleged to have engaged in drug-trafficking activity or take action to resolve the allegations."

Hitz said some of the alleged trafficking involved bringing drugs into the United States. But, he added, investigators "found no evidence of any conspiracy by CIA or its employees to bring drugs into the United States."

Senate Panel Hears Testimony On Deceptive Loan Practices

the Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON

A former employee of a lending company on Monday gave a Senate panel a detailed account of how he lured non-English speakers, racial minorities, and the elderly into signing away their homes by taking on big loans that promised low monthly payments.

Testifying anonymously from behind a shield to members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, the employee helped lawmakers drive home a point: that Americans with low incomes and high equity on their homes need to beware of lending companies that offer attractive loan packages to consolidate bills, improve or refinance homes.

Because many of the lending practices technically are legal, Monday's hearing aimed to educate the public - especially those deemed most vulnerable - how to avoid being victimized.

With willing clients, these companies - who all agree represent a small percentage of the lending marketplace - engage in three basic types of practices:

Stripping, in which companies provide high-interest loans based on the equity of customers' homes, not on their ability to pay, thus attracting clients with little, poor or no credit histories and fixed and limited incomes.

Flipping, in which customers are induced to borrow successive loans to refinance previous loans.

Packing, in which companies add overpriced or unnecessary products to loans, such as health, accident, unemployment and life insurance, then charge interest based on the inflated amount.