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Dark days of winter can be darker still for golfers in Alaska. So Jeff Barnhart, director of the Palmer Golf Course north of Anchorage, offered a free day of golf when temperatures hit the 40s last week. There were a couple of drawbacks, however: The hours were 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the only period of daylight this time of year. And you had to play a slushy course recently covered by a foot of snow.

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A day-care center in Cary, N.C., was "socked in" for a couple of weeks earlier this month, but not by the weather. After a Primrose School newsletter mentioned a goal of collecting 10,000 socks for the needy, some parents with textile-industry connections had 10 pallet loads delivered to the school on an 18-wheeler. It turns out the 10,000 figure was a nationwide goal, not a target for the school, which has nonetheless found takers - from children's homes and flood victims in North Carolina to orphanages in Ukraine.

Environmentalists under fire in many nations, study finds

People brave enough to speak out about environmental abuses need protection from heavyhanded governments, says a joint report of the Sierra Club and Amnesty International USA. The two organizations have launched a campaign to protect environmental activists from harassment, imprisonment, and torture. Among the cases cited as needing urgent attention:

Chad and Cameroon, where opponents of an oil pipeline have been arrested or threatened.

China, where there's a crackdown against opponents of Three Gorges Dam.

Ecuador, where efforts to stop multinational oil projects have reportedly led to abuse of indigenous people.

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India, where protesters of a dam project have been arrested and beaten.

Mexico, where antilogging activists have been arrested and tortured.

Russia, where environmentalists are denounced as spies.

- Associated Press

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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