The Economist - 24 November 2001 by The Economist Group

By The Economist Group

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Then came the hurricane. It killed only five people, thanks to a well-organised civil defence plan which saw 700,000 evacuated. But the worst storm in 50 years cut a path of devastation across the centre of the island. Banana plantations were flattened. Sugar and citrus crops, both important export earners, were damaged. Power and telephone lines came down, roofs were blown off schools and factories, and large areas were flooded. The government spurned an initial offer of aid from the United States, accepting those from Venezuela, Germany and China, among others.

Immigration officials have no idea how many people who originally entered the country on student visas have stayed on illegally. Even if the Feinstein-Kyl bill disappears, students will find themselves under more scrutiny. 6m to speed up the implementation of an electronic system that will track the holders of student and exchange visas and keep information about them. The system, which has already been tested in 21 southern colleges, will go nationwide in 2003. It has now been expanded to cover students at air-flight schools, language-training centres and vocational schools.

And although Tennessee's governor, Don Sundquist, vetoed the legislature's decision to cobble the budget together with tobacco money, it overrode his veto. “If the legislature had deliberately set out to wreck the state's finances, I doubt it could have done a better job,” Mr Sundquist lamented. A number of states have decided that, if getting money from the tobacco industry is nice, getting it in one lump sum would be even nicer. Seven states have already found an ingenious way of doing this, or are planning to: they get the bulk of their tobacco-settlement money now by selling municipal bonds backed by future settlement revenues.

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