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Of Human Interest: News-lite

By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International   |   April 12, 2002 at 6:14 AM   |   Comments

BUT HOW DO THEY TASTE?

A new sandwich being developed by the U.S. military is tough enough to be dropped out of an airplane and is designed to last for up to three years, according to a New Scientist report.

The new "pocket" sandwich will stay fresh for three years at the temperature of a warm summer day, and for six months at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It could supplement the military's standard fare, called "Meal Ready-to-Eat" (MRE). The sandwiches are more easily eaten on the go than the MREs, which are stored in and must be prepared from a series of pouches.

The researchers at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass., added substances called humectants to pepperoni and chicken to prevent water from leaking out of them and making the bread soggy. The pepperoni and barbecue-chicken sandwiches were rated as "acceptable" by soldiers, and pocket pizzas, cream-filled bagels, breakfast burritos, and peanut-butter sandwiches are next on the menu.

(Thanks to Jim Kling, UPI Science News)


WE STILL WANT HIM DEAD, RIGHT?

We're not as worried as much about financial insecurity or Osama bin Laden, according to a survey of 1,000 Americans.

The poll -- commissioned by AmeriCredit Corp., and conducted by Market Facts, Inc., a national research firm -- found that about four out of five Americans expect their spending habits will return to normal within a year. Nearly half of those surveyed say they already are back to normal spending.

Despite widespread preoccupation with the war in Afghanistan, Americans expressed less concern with the capture of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (16 percent) than seeing a clear end to the recession (32 percent) and an end to large numbers of layoffs (25 percent).

"The recession and its effects are still the subject of national debate, but our survey clearly indicates that a large majority of Americans feel they have weathered the storm and are intent on resuming normal consumer purchases," said Michael R. Barrington, vice chairman, president and CEO of AmeriCredit. "We have all seen the early signs of renewed optimism, and our survey shows its extent and how it's affecting people's financial decisions."

In response to a question of priorities in paying bills during the financial downturn, Americans said mortgage and rent payments ranked first, followed in order of importance by car payments and auto insurance. Of less priority were credit card payments, cellular phone bills and cable or satellite television bills.

Asked about major spending plans postponed during the past year, respondents listed in order of importance: home improvements, vacation plans, electronic or computer purchases, elective dental or medical procedures and automobile purchases.

Consumers listed the following major spending plans for 2002, in order of importance: vacations (23 percent), home improvements (22 percent) and automobile purchases (10 percent).


MAMA, SET ME FREE

According to the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based research group, this year's Tax Freedom Day -- the day on which the average working America has earned enough in gross income to satisfy their tax obligations -- falls on April 27, two calendar days earlier than in 2001 and four days earlier than in 2000.

The group also found that the number of days that the average American must work to pay taxes can be compared to the price of other important categories of consumer spending. "Americans will work longer to pay for government (117 days) than they will for food, clothing, and shelter combined (106 days)," it said in a statement.

The full report on the nation's tax burden can be found on the group's Web site at taxfoundation.org/taxfreedomday.html.

(From UPI's Capital Comment)


REASONS TO CELEBRATE THIS WEEKEND:

FRIDAY: This is International Teens Against Zits, a rally protesting the injustice done by acne all over the world.

And the 14th annual Ozark UFO Conference is today through Sunday at the Inn of the Ozarks Conference Center in Eureka Springs, Ark. The truth is out there. Beam me up, Scotty.

SATURDAY: India celebrates the Sikh holiday of Baisakhi today.

And the Sinhala and Tamil New Year is celebrated today and tomorrow in Sri Lanka.

SUNDAY: Today through April 18 is Explore Your Career Options Week.

Today through April 20, meanwhile, is Grange Week, recognizing its contribution to America. (Web site: nationalgrange.org) It's also National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week and National Women's Nutrition Week.

Today through April 21 is Jewish Heritage Week.

This is the beginning of Pan American Week and today is Pan American Day, by presidential proclamation.

In Honduras, today is celebrated as Dia De Las Americas.

And it's International Moment of Laughter Day. (Web site: izzyg.com)

MONDAY: Today through April 21 is Astronomy Week. It's also Families Laughing Through Stories Week, National Credit Education Week, National Minority Cancer Awareness Week and Young People's Poetry Week.

This is Income Tax Pay Day.

And it's Patriot's Day in Massachusetts and Maine.

(Thanks to Chase's 2002 Calendar of Events)


BY THE WAY...

This TV series was a breakthrough for the career of actor Johnny Depp. What?

"21 Jump Street," a police drama that premiered on this date in 1987 on Fox TV.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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