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News Briefs

Palestinian Economy Crippled


A U.N. report released Thursday paints a bleak picture of the economic destruction that has resulted from the lattice of checkpoints, encirclement of cities, roadblocks, incursions, and destroyed buildings and supply networks under the military lock-down over the past several months.

The numbers tell part of the story. Unemployment for East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza rose sharply between the first and second quarter, to 50 percent from 36 percent, the United Nations reports, as the military tightened restrictions on travel and trade.

For the first time in memory, the jobless rate in the West Bank -- 63.3 percent on curfew days -- is higher than the Gaza Strip’s 50 percent, following the encirclement of Ramallah, Hebron and other major West Bank trading centers.

Bush Tops Fundraising Records


It was another million-dollar day for the hundred-million-dollar president.

President Bush came here to keynote a fundraiser that the White House said will generate $600,000 for the re-election of Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.), and for the Arkansas Republican Party.

Thursday morning, Bush helped to raise $500,000 in Oklahoma City for Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and for the gubernatorial bid of former Republican congressman Steve Largent. In addition to the $1,000 per person chicken-and-beans lunch for Largent and Inhofe and a $500 per person dinner for Hutchinson, Inhofe and Hutchinson were treated to rides aboard Air Force One.

The pair of events Thursday were the 47th and 48th fundraisers of the year for Bush and brought the total amount he has raised for GOP candidates this year to about $115 million. That amount shatters all presidential fundraising records, even that of Bill Clinton, the previous fundraising champion.

Bush had long ago passed the $35 million fundraising level Clinton reached during 1994, the first midterm elections of his presidency. And by raising another $9 million during his August vacation, during which he was based on his ranch in Texas, Bush has exceeded the $105 million Clinton raised in 2000 -- and that took Clinton 203 events, according to a CBS News tally.

Historic Shipwreck Located


Marine scientists announced Thursday they had found the paddle steamship Portland, known as the “Titanic of New England,” which sank in a wintry gale 104 years ago with 190 people on board.

Researchers had spent decades looking for the 281-foot vessel. Sonar images and digital video from remotely operated vehicles confirmed the find this week. The ship was found in the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, an area the size of Rhode Island between Cape Ann and Cape Cod.

“This discovery closes the chapter on one of the greatest maritime disasters in New England,” said Benjamin Cowie-Haskell, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s primary investigator of the Portland expedition.

Researchers Thursday excitedly described the first sonar image rolling out of a computer printer.

“It was literally like an apparition coming off the sea floor,” said Craig MacDonald, the sanctuary’s superintendent. “Everybody got goose bumps.”

The tale of the Portland is well known to many New Englanders. A majestic ship with gold trim and velvet carpets, it left Boston’s India Wharf for an overnight voyage to Portland, Me., as scheduled after Thanksgiving on Nov. 26, 1898.