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Chaotic Land Use Policy
Threatens Coastal Erosion

By Cornelia Dean

Unless there are major changes in the regulation of land use along the United States’ sheltered coasts, many landscapes in the nation’s estuaries, bays, lagoons and mudflats will be damaged or destroyed by erosion, an expert panel reported Thursday.

The panel said a rising sea level was accelerating erosion on these coasts, even as more and more people seek to live along them. Seawalls, bulkheads and other engineered barriers can offer short-term protection from erosion, the experts said, but long term they often result in the loss of landscapes that are vital for birds, fish and shellfish and important for their recreational and aesthetic value.

Among other things, the panel recommended replacing local regulatory regimes with approaches for larger regions carried out with an eye to long-term effects. And it suggested that property owners and regulators think beyond rock and concrete and consider novel protection methods, like the creation of artificial marshes.

The panel was convened by the National Research Council, the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences. Its report, “Mitigating Shore Erosion Along Sheltered Coasts,” was posted Thursday at

8 Palestinians Killed
By Israelis in Gaza

By Greg Myre

Israeli ground troops raided a village in the Gaza Strip, and the air force carried out strikes that killed eight Palestinians and wounded about 20 on Thursday, according to Palestinian medical workers. The fighting was among the deadliest in recent weeks.

At least four militant members of Hamas were among the dead, but a girl and a teenage boy were also killed, the medical workers said.

The militants fired at least six rockets from northern Gaza at southern Israel. On Thursday night, one rocket apparently damaged a power line, cutting off electricity in Sderot, an Israeli town just beyond Gaza’s perimeter fence.

Israeli tanks and troops entered Gaza after an Israeli soldier was seized by Palestinian militants and taken into the coastal territory on June 25. Though the Israeli forces are concentrated in open areas in the southeast corner of Gaza, they stage regular forays into more populated areas, including an operation before dawn on Thursday in Abassan, a village nearby.

The Israeli military said it had been searching for tunnels used by militants, but did not report having found any. Palestinian militants repeatedly fired automatic rifles and antitank rockets at the Israeli forces, which were supported by helicopters and drones.

Unions Organize
China’s Wal-Mart Stores

By David Lague

Workers have set up unions at all 66 Wal-Mart outlets in China, beginning what a Chinese union official described Thursday as a wider campaign aimed at other foreign companies.

Wal-Mart has long battled to ban unions from its stores and distribution centers, and Guo Wencai, a senior organizer of the government-sanctioned All-China Federation of Trade Unions, called the establishment of union branches at the Wal-Mart stores a “breakthrough” for organized labor.

Guo said at a news conference here that the success at Wal-Mart would be a springboard to similar efforts aimed at Eastman Kodak, Dell and other companies.

“We are going to exert very high pressure on all these types of companies until unions are established there,” Guo said. “It is an irreversible trend.” He said union membership would lead to better conditions for employees, including higher wages and safer workplaces.

The effort to unionize workers at foreign companies is strictly limited to expanding the membership of the officially sanctioned labor federation, which says it has 150 million members.

But some labor market analysts and human rights groups say establishing branches of the official union in foreign companies is aimed more at allowing the Chinese authorities to tighten control over the rapidly expanding private-sector work force.

Under Chinese law, employees are barred from organizing independent unions, and workers or activists seeking to challenge these rules are routinely prosecuted and jailed, according to human rights groups.

US Population Expected to Hit
300 Million on Tuesday


It is almost official. The Census Bureau announced Thursday that with a net gain of one person every 11 seconds, the nation’s population will reach 300 million at about 7:46 a.m. next Tuesday.

The estimate assumes that, on average, an American is born every seven seconds, one dies every 13 seconds and the nation gains an immigrant every 31 seconds.

Tuesday, Oct. 17, happens to be the anniversary of the American victory in the Battle of Saratoga, the introduction of the curve ball, Al Capone’s imprisonment for tax evasion, Albert Einstein’s emigration to the United States from Germany, the beginning of the 1973 Arab oil boycott and the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.

It is also the birthday of the daredevil Evel Knievel, the columnist Jimmy Breslin and the actress Margot Kidder, and the day that a number of British historians have designated as “an ordinary weekday of no particular significance” on which citizens are being urged to contribute to the historical record in an online diary.

Whoever the 300 millionth American is, his or her arrival is bound to be a relief to Robert Woo, an Atlanta lawyer who was anointed by Life magazine as the 200 millionth American in 1967.

“Forty years is enough,” Woo said Thursday.