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By PAT NASON, United Press International   |   May 20, 2003 at 4:00 AM   |   Comments

STUDY QUESTIONS VALUE OF SCHOOL DRUG TESTING

Researchers conclude drug use in schools does not seem to be affected by drug testing, the New York Times reported.

The paper says what it called the first large-scale national study on the subject -- a federally financed study of 76,000 students nationwide -- found drug use is just as common in schools where students are tested as in schools where they are not.

The study was published in the Journal of School Health, a peer-reviewed publication of the American School Health Association. It found 37 percent of 12th graders in schools that tested for drugs said they had smoked marijuana in the past year -- while 36 percent in schools that did not test said they had used pot during the same time frame.

The researchers reported 18 percent of U.S. schools -- mostly high schools -- carried out drug screening from 1998 to 2001.

Dr. Lloyd D. Johnston -- one of the study's researchers -- said the results suggest drug screening might not only be ineffective it also might be counterproductive.

"It's the kind of intervention that doesn't win the hearts and minds of children," Johnson told the paper. "I don't think it brings about any constructive changes in their attitudes about drugs or their belief in the dangers associated with using them."


BUCKLE UP IN MARYLAND

Police in Maryland say they will emphasize enforcement of seatbelt laws for the next two weeks, in hopes of getting more folks in the habit of using them.

Local and state police announced the campaign in Baltimore. The crackdown will involve setting up more than 100 checkpoints throughout the Free State -- mostly in areas that have been the scene of repeated traffic accidents.

Officers will write tickets carrying fines of anywhere from $25 for each adult not wearing a seatbelt, to $48 for each child who is not properly using a seatbelt or car set.

Maryland already has an 86 percent seatbelt usage rate -- well above the national average of 75 percent.


LISA MARIE PRESLEY TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED

Dates have been confirmed for Lisa Marie Presley's debut tour, in support of her recently released debut album, "To Whom It May Concern."

The daughter of rock 'n' roll icon Elvis Presley will join Chris Isaak on a 17-city U.S. tour -- kicking off on July 11 at the Fleet Boston Pavilion and hitting Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis, Nashville and New York.

Presley also will appear on June 20 at New York's Rockefeller Plaza as part of the "Today" show's outdoor concert series. She also will perform on "VH1 Divas Duets" airing live from Las Vegas on May 22, and the June 1 episode of VH1's "Driven."

"To Whom It May Concern" entered the Billboard album charts at No. 5 and was one of the year's highest debuts.


IS HE TRYING TO TELL US SOMETHING?

Pope John Paul II told an audience of Polish pilgrims in St. Peter's Square Monday he is "increasingly aware" that death is "drawing near."

The pilgrims were in Rome to celebrate the canonization of two Polish saints on Sunday, which also was the pope's 83rd birthday.

"I am increasingly aware that the day is drawing near when I will have to present myself to God and make an accounting of my whole life," said the pontiff.

John Paul has not enjoyed good heath for years. He has suffered from a variety of debilitating hip and knee problems. A top Vatican official acknowledged over the weekend what had been speculated for years -- the pope suffers from Parkinson's disease.

© 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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