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Of Human Interest: News lite

By ELLEN BECK, United Press International   |   Feb. 18, 2003 at 4:30 AM
WOMEN MAKE WAGE GAINS

Those extra dollars in the family checking account last year mainly came from the woman of the house, the New York Times reports.

Men's wages did not keep up with even the low inflation rate but earnings for women continued to grow.

The raises garnered by women helped close the gap between men's and women's wages to the narrowest ever -- but women still lag behind, the Times says.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says full-time female workers made 77.5 percent of what men in similar jobs earned last year, up from 76 percent in 2001.


WOMAN, 58, IS OLDEST MOTHER OF TWINS

Britain's oldest mother of twins is Janet Bosher, says London's Sunday Mirror. The children, Sarah and James, born some five months ago when Bosher was 58.

They are her first children and she gave birth with the help of donated embryos.

Now, one of the happiest times of her life has been marred by tragedy. Bosher's partner, Martin Maslin, 64, died of a heart attack, the Mirror reports, leaving Bosher to learn how to cope along.

"I feel a terrible mixture of grief, despair and joy. It is hard to imagine a future without Martin and I sometimes wonder how I will carry on," Bosher told the paper. "But when I look at the babies and realize how much I love them I know I have to."


STREET TOILET IDEA GOING DOWN DRAIN

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- along with his three predecessors -- all came into office promising to add street toilets to the Big Apple's landscape.

The New York Post reports like those who came before him, Bloomberg's plan is in danger of going down the drain.

City Councilman Tony Avella told the Post the high cost of public toilets -- about $30,000 each -- is a major obstacle and few companies would want to pay money to advertise on the side of a toilet.

The City Council is struggling with an entire package of ideas -- including having newsstand vendors buy new stands and then allow advertising to be displayed on them -- with all the proceeds going to the city.


ROBOTS PUT A SMILE ON

Robots of the future will be able to smile, frown and sneer on cue, as well as respond appropriately to human facial expressions, says the creator of one such prototype.

Doctoral student David Hanson of the University of Texas at Dallas has built K-bot, an artificial human face equipped with "infinite possible expressions," which he said can mimic the human face and respond to sociably to people.

K-bot cost only about $400 to build, Hanson told United Press International, although its software sometimes fails to perform. Indeed, one of his attempts to display the device -- at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science this week -- fell apart when K-bot refused to respond.

K-bot has a repertoire of 28 different basic expressions using 24 controls that Hanson calls "fake muscles." It weighs about 4 pounds and has a polymer skin that stretches and bends much like human flesh. Its eyes house two cameras that convey human expressions to software that -- when it works -- allows K-bot to mimic and respond to them.

© 2003 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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