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URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL MEETING.

BIOGRAPHY OF A PROMINENT TOWNSMAN.

rSKENFRITH. I

IMarkets. I

A Most Delicious Summer Beverage.

Moiunoutlishire'Quartcr Sessions.

1 Severn Tunnel Fatality.

-Parliamentary.

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ICURRENT TOPICS.

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I CURRENT TOPICS. J FRENCH MINISTRIES, The average duration of French Ministries is about nine months, and no one looks for anything but a stop gap arrangement un:il the Dreyfus affair is out of the way. Few leading politicians care to hold office while that terrible nightmare hnags over France, and the one great aim and object of Ministerial manoeuvring is to be in the Government next year, during the time of the great Exhibition It is really extraordinary how the Dreyfus scandal has, for the past two years or more, cast its paralysing influence over the leading politicians and public men in France. Fortunately, M. Delcasse who had charge of the Foreign Office during the time of the Fashoda crisis, still retains his post. While everything else is at sixes and sevens, this is some guarantee of continuity in French foreign policy. It gives some idea of the actual unreadiness of France for war last autumn to find that the Fashod t crisis cost her 22,500,000 most of which was expended upon the Navy and coast defences. In consequence of this large outlay, there are to be no French naval manoeuvres this year. The Army also, is probably in anything but the efficient state it is popularly supposed to be. It could hardly be otherwise, seeing that its chiefs are so mixed up in plots and villanies, such as we are only accustomed to look for in the Oriental depravity of Eastern dynasties. THE SHAMROCK." I Sir Thomas Liptou's naw racing yacht, the Shamrock," which is to compete for the America Cup, is to leave for New York at the beginning of August. Sbe is built partly of bronze, and partly of aluminium, and her length over all is about 125 feet. There are to be a series of five races at New York, the winner of three being the victor of the contest, According to present arrangements, the first race is to take place on October 3rd, though the date may be altered if the Shamrock is detained by adverse weather. The New York Yacht Club have courteously met Sir Thomas Lipton n othe subject of shifting marks, and since the unfortuuate Uunraven incident the rules have been modified, and now require that destructive load-line marks are to be put at each end of the boat. Special care is also to be taken to avoid any repetition of the misunderstanding with regard to mark-boats, and better arrangements are to be made for keeping the course clear. The crowding of excursion bants, and small craft has always been a trouble in recent years, and the course will ba kept clear by special Aet of Congress, which provides Government boats for this purpose. The prospects seem favourable for the success of the Shamrock, and it may be hoped that Sir Thomas Lipton will succeed in bringing back the Cup which has so long remained on the other side as a souvenir of American prowess in the building and handliug uf yachts. DANGERS TO BATHERS. Now that the drowning season is coming on, reckless bathers should beware of its many warnings. Cycliets have recently been urging the necessity for placing caution boards at the top of steep hills, but there is really quite as much need for public notices of dangerous coast currents, at many of the summer seaside resorts. In the one case the danger is obvious, but in the other it is unseen and often unheeded. In this way good swimmers are frequently swept out to sea before they realise their peril. At some of the popular holiday resorts warning boards are exhibited where required, but there are many places where the visitor is left to take his chance of being carried away beyond his strength by the" backwash" or undertow," as some special forms of current are named. Those who do not swim, do not venture, and the many fatal accidents to those who do, show that the accomplishment is not always an advantase but every bather, and especially good swimmers should beware of dmgerous currents, which are the cause of so many fatalities round our coasts, during the holiday season. WEST AFRICAN LIQUOR TRAFFIC. 1 The Brussels Conference on the West African liquor traffic has resolved to increase the duties upon alcohol imported into Equatorial Africa. The Conference is the sequel of one held in 1889-90. whsn a minimum duty of one shilling per gallon was agreed to. It is now proposed to raise this to three shillings. As is well-known, the eheap alcoholic spirits sent out are rapidly becoming the curse of Africa, and it is urged that the only effective way of dealing with the evil on the West Coast would be to prohibit its export there altogether. The mere raising of the duty will not, it is feared, do much to stop the supply, and the natives having acquired the taste for drink, are now learning how to manufacture it from the banana, and other products. According to Bishop Tugwell the evil is not confined to the natives, as he alleges that seventy-five per cent of the deaths among the white population on the West Coast of Africa are due to strong drink. The regulation thing in the old days used to be a bottle a day, but the West Africans now think better of themselves, and they brought a serious charge against the Bishop for libelliug the whole West Coast of Africa, by referring to its drunken habits. Bishop Tugwell has lately been on a visit to this country-out on bail-but it now appears that the case, with its burlesque charge against him, has collapsed. L.C.C. AND THE SP ARROWS. An appeal has been made to the London County Council to assist in a war of extermination against the sparrows. It is complained that they thrive and multiply by swarms in the towns, and resort to the country where they do serious injury to the crops. It is in the populous centres, whsre it is suggested their nests should be rooted out and destroyed. The task would be no easy one, but it would probably be the only way of effectually put- ting them down. The old stagers know too much to be easily caught or trapped, as, trained to all sorts of dangers, no bird keeps his weather eye more carefully open. The charges brought against the sparrows are many and serious, and all authorities- including the well-known Miss Ormerod—join in condemning them to death. They are equally a pest to the gardener, the market gardener, and the farmer, and it is supposed they must be Radicals in politic?, owing to their special destructiveness among the primroses. The sparrow, it seems, can comfortably swallow its own bulk in corn during the day, and it is not only what it eats, but what it wastes. As to being of any possible use, the sparrows do little or nothing in the way of catching insects, and they drive off other birds which would be of far more use in this respect. They are not even scavengers, but purely and simply pugnacious and greedy little thieves. There are many who would say a good word for the sparrow, but this does not alter the verdict which calls in all seriousness for a crusade of destruction against our familiar little birds. MR. TESLA TRIES TO SIGNAL TO MARS. The question whether the planet Mars is inha- bited is one that nobody as yet can answer, though the weight of scientific opinion is decidedly against it. Mr. Tesla, the famous electrician, is, however, busy making enquiries, and we ought soon to be in communication with the Martians, if any such people really exist. He has set up his laboratory on the top of Pike's Peak in Colorado, and is busy flashing signals into space, in the hope that they may possibly attract attention on the other planet. The learned world in America does not seem to be very hopeful of results. At the same time Mr. Tesla is not neglecting our nearer interests in terrestrial affairs, and he is still predicting the most marvellous developments of the electric current in future. Not only are we to have wireless telegraphy over any distance on the earth, but he says it will be possible to project currents of enormous power over long distances, which, as is so often suggested, may be used not only to destroy fleets and armies, but also for the more useful purposes of industry and commerce. TO SMOKERS. A new terror has been propounded for smokers. Dr. J. H. Thomson in his address before the Lancashire and Cheshire branch of the British Medical Association the other day, showed the distinct presence of carbonic oxide gas in tobacco smoke, and when inhaled it had the same injurious effect on the system as choke damp in collieries. Another theorist whose views are expounded in the H Contemporary Review," explains that the delicate flavour of the supposed finest brands of tobacco is not due to the quality of fthe leaf, but to the bacteria which swarm upon it. A German bacte- riologist was the first to make the discovery. Afterwards he artificially cultivated the best West Indian bacteria, and introduced them into common German tobacco, when, it is said, connoisettrs could not distinguish it from the fioest foreign tobicco* It only remains to be seen whether the bacteria will take kindly to the cabbage plant, or the still more abundant foliage of the trees. Then tobacco might be dispensed with. Tbe smoker will grow his own microbes, in his b%ck garden, and then the Chancellor of the Exchequer might whistla for his ten millions or more, which he looks for from the tobacco duty.

-'.1 Resignation of Sir W.…

IThe Trans i aal -'

ITHE STUDY OF FLOWERS.

Shipment of Rails from Newport…

The Sfax Sighted.

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BOARD OF GUARDIANS.