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Special Report: Seeking a New World : Notes on the Current U.S. Status : OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS

December 18, 1990

The American Chemical Society once estimated that the United States possesses enough chemical weapons to kill everyone in the world 5,000 times over. Its stockpile is said to be second only to that of the Soviet Union, and includes lethal nerve agents as well as gases that incapacitate. Chemical warfare agents are stored at eight locations in the United States. The largest U.S. stockpiles are in Utah and Arkansas. Washington and Moscow agreed last June to reduce their stores of chemical agents by 50% by the end of 1999. Washington also agreed to halt production of chemical weapons by 1992.

OF SECESSION

America in the past decade has not been without its own, localized secessionist movements. For example, residents of the Oak Cliff section of Dallas--a 200-square-mile area that accounts for 20% of the city's tax base--are mounting an effort to vote themselves out of Dallas. They claim the city has shortchanged them in terms of services. In Boston in the mid-1980s, black activists sought to carve a 12.5-square-mile area out of the city's center and rename it Mandela, after South Africa's Nelson Mandela.

OF INFANT MORTALITY

The National Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality, in a study released earlier this year, reported that the United States had fallen to 20th place among developed nations in the effort to reduce infant deaths. With a rate of 19.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, Washington, D.C., has become an "infant mortality disaster area" with a rate rivaling those of many Third World nations. Japan leaped from 17th place to first place, with only half the U.S. rate of 10.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, the study reported. The figure for Los Angeles was 10.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.

OF AGING

Census figures show that the median age in America in 1980 was 30 years. By 1988, the figure had increased to 32.3 years, according to Current Population reports. In 1980, the 15-24 age group accounted for the most Americans, 42.5 million. By 1988, the largest group was those between 25 and 34 years old, 43.7 million. Some other facts on the aging of America: In 1990, one in five Americans is at least 55 years old and one in eight is at least 65. By the year 2000, 25% of the country's population, about 51 million, will be over age 65.

OF URBAN POVERTY

There are 19 American cities with populations over 250,000 and per capita income of less than $12,000, according to the National Planning Data Corp. The 10 poorest are El Paso, $8,963; Newark, N.J., $9,061; Cleveland, $9,734; San Antonio, $9,828; Birmingham, Ala., $10,321; New Orleans, $10,335; Corpus Christi, Tex., $10,469; Buffalo, N.Y., $10,610; Detroit, $10,860, and St. Louis, $11,260.

OF IMMIGRATION

President Bush recently signed the Immigration Act of 1990, which raises total annual immigration levels from 540,000 to 700,000 in 1992-94--then drops them to a minimum of 675,000. It provides temporary protected status to certain categories of foreign nationals facing dangerous circumstances in their homelands--specifically Salvadorans. The law also cuts back on provisions under which aliens have been denied entry in the past on grounds of ideology or sexual orientation.

OF RELIGION

There are now 6 million Muslims in the United States. That means there are more Muslims in the country than Latter Day Saints/Mormons (4 million), Presbyterians (2.9 million) and Episcopalians (2.5 million). The largest Christian church body in the United States is the Roman Catholic, with an estimated 55 million members, and the Southern Baptist Convention, with nearly 15 million. The total Jewish population in the United States is believed to be about 6 million.

OF LANGUAGE

The number of people in the United States whose usual language or mother tongue is other than English rose from 28 million in 1976 to 34.7 million in 1990 and is projected to reach 39.5 million in the year 2000. According to the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, those whose non-English language background is Spanish should climb from 10.6 million (38% of the total) in 1976 to 18.2 million (46%) in 2000. Those whose background is in Asian languages should increase from 1.8 million to 2.3 million.

OF ETHNICITY

In 1980, according to U.S. Census figures, whites made up 79.6% of the population, blacks 11.5%, Latinos 6.4% and Asians 2.5%. 1990 figures, estimated by the National Planning Data Corp., show that while the number of whites increased by more than 11 million, the group's population percentage dropped to 76.7%. The other groups all registered an increase, with blacks climbing to 11.7% of the population, Latinos 8% and Asians 3.6%. Projected figures for 1995 show whites accounting for 75.7% of the population, blacks 11.7%, Latinos 8.7% and Asians 4%.

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