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News Briefs

Poll Shows Declining Public Support for War Against Iraq

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

Seven in 10 Americans would give U.N. weapons inspectors months more to pursue their arms search in Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that found growing doubts about an attack on Saddam Hussein.

In addition to the public’s skepticism about military action against Iraq, the poll found that a majority of Americans disapproved of President Bush’s handling of the economy for the first time in his presidency. The number of Americans who regard the economy as healthy hasn’t been lower in the past nine years, and majorities raised objections to the tax-cut plan Bush has proposed as a remedy.

Overall, support for Bush has dropped to levels not seen since before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, with 59 percent of Americans approving of his work. That’s still a comfortable level of popularity, and Bush advisers and analysts expect Americans will rally to his side once hostilities begin in Iraq. Still, Bush’s overall standing, buoyed by the 71 percent who approve of his work against terrorism, masks deepening concerns about Bush’s economic and foreign policies.

Chinese Crackdown Leaves North Korean Refugees Few Options

THE WASHINGTON POST -- YANJI, CHINA

Cracking down on North Korean refugees, Chinese authorities have forcibly returned thousands of destitute people to their isolated Stalinist homeland and forced those who remain to risk their lives scratching out a meager existence in wintry mountains to escape Chinese police raids, according to witnesses and refugees.

The crackdown was on display over the weekend in the checkpoints and patrols here on China’s border with North Korea, and in eastern Shandong province, where 58 refugees seeking food and freedom were caught trying to board fishing boats headed for South Korea and to Japan.

China, the country with the closest ties to North Korea, has yet to fully exercise its influence over Pyongyang, Western diplomats complain. But China has been assiduous in carrying out its crackdown on North Korean illegal immigrants, fulfilling a treaty with Pyongyang.

Hispanic Population Drawing Even With African Americans’

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

In the months following the 2000 Census, the number of Latinos who were born in the United States or who immigrated to the country grew at more than twice the rate of African Americans, fueling the expectation that Hispanics would soon emerge as the nation’s largest ethnic group.

The black and Latino populations were nearly deadlocked in the 2000 Census. In 2001, according to the new figures, that deadlock was even tighter: 37.7 million people identified either as black, or as black and one other race, according to the new figures. Thirty-seven million Hispanics were counted.

The reason is that Latinos accounted for nearly half of the nation’s total population growth from 2000 to 2001, which includes birth and immigration rates, according to the new estimates. During that time, the African American population increased by only two percent. Blurred racial and ethnic boundaries make such estimates difficult to parse. Latinos can belong to any racial group, and are often mixed race.