How To Combat Teen Pregnancy

Teen pregnancy rates are falling across Europe. But in Britain, they're rising. And although the government is set to release a long-awaited report this week on how to combat the problem, most experts don't expect the recommendations to be a watershed. The British government, they say, fears a conservative backlash against any move toward broadening sex education.

But inhibitions about discussing sex openly seem to be part of the problem. Roger Ingham, director of the Sexual Research Centre at Southampton University, has compared teens in Britain and the Netherlands. He found that the "moralistic" tone used in Britain to discuss sex deters new thinking about how to prevent pregnancy. Melanie Clark, who lost her virginity at 15, agrees. "We as a nation are used to thinking about sex as something naughty or not to be discussed," she said. "That makes it far more appealing to kids and harder for us to talk to [adults] about." Maya Elmaman, who became a mother at 16, said even her gynecologist declined to discuss sex with her. "She never told me that if I went off [the pill] for a while I could risk being pregnant. I found out the hard way." Perhaps the new report will be at least a small step in the right direction.

Britain France Italy Spain Germany Netherlands (BIRTHS/1000) 30.1 6.9 6.9 7.7 8.5 4.3 FRANCETiny Footprints in the Sand

To French archeologists who discovered what may be the oldest human footprints in the world, size matters. Found in the Chauvet caves in Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, central France, one perfect impression, said to be more than 25,000 years old, resembles a young boy's footprint. It's significant because children only entered caves when brought in by adults to participate in rituals. "Children didn't go into the caves to play," says expedition leader Jean Clottes. "Now we know that [adults] brought children into the caves at much earlier periods."

TERRORISMAnother Holy War

Exiled Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden made his first televised appearance last week before a mass Arab audience. And he wasted no time before declaring holy war on his No. 1 enemy, the United States. "We are seeking to incite the [Islamic] nation to rise up to liberate its land and to [conduct] jihad for the sake of God," he told Qatar's al-Jazeera satellite-television station. Earlier in the week the FBI had placed him on its "10 most wanted" list of suspects for his alleged role in the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. During the 90-minute broadcast, bin Laden denied he was behind the attacks but said he respected those who had carried out strikes on American bases in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996. The interview was reportedly taped several months earlier while bin Laden was living in Afghanistan. His current whereabouts are unknown.

MEXICOA Pariah Returns

Last weekend Mexico's favorite villain, ex-president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, returned home for the first time in four years. He told reporters that the two-day trip was personal and included a brief conversation with his brother Raul, serving a 50-year sentence for the killing of a popular politician. But the trip was widely seen as a testing of the waters for a more permanent return--possibly as a behind-the-scenes player in the 2000 presidential elections. "I feel very good in my own land," he said.

But he was far from welcome. Many Mexicans blame him for the 1994 peso crash that set off a wave of crime and unemployment. Outside his press conference, protesters held up signs proclaiming him "godfather of the mafia" and a "narco-politician."

THE SKINNYWicked Worm Eats Files

The story: a malicious "worm" that burrowed through the Net last week disguised itself as an e-mail from a friend. But when recipients clicked on the attached file, it wiped documents off their hard drives.

The skinny: like many hacker tricks, the latest required people to click on the file attached to e-mail. Better to think of attachments as ticking parcels and don't open them, unless you're sure of the contents.

BRAZILAll Fired Up

Brazil is cracking down on one of its oldest and most dangerous traditions: fire balloons. From late May to early July, skies light up as these flame-powered markers of the harvest festival waft magically through the night. Problem is, they also come down. In the last five years the balloons have caused a total of 11,205 fires, claiming about 14,700 acres of forests. Though making, selling and flying fire balloons have been illegal since 1998, most people have ignored the ban. This season, Rio de Janeiro has redoubled its efforts, launching its own "anti-balloon" campaign.

VATICANWired for 2000

The holy jubilee 2000 is around the corner, and the Roman Catholic Church is ready for the future. Thanks to a new rule passed by the Vatican, cloistered nuns worldwide can now surf the Net. Convents' holy mothers and the Vatican's holy father will apply parental-type restrictions so they're not "led away by desire." In New York, a Disney-type Vatican theme store will be the first of 400 to sell relics and art found in the Vatican museums. Worshipers can buy everything from papal bed linen and china to crested floor tiles and papal-blessing parchments. Alas, no Pope Soap on a Rope or plug-in Virgin Mary lamps like the ones in Rome. All proceeds will go to the poor.


With Pokemon cards stirring frenzied trading from schoolyards to eBay, the game's creators will rush the new "Jungle" set to stores this week.