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News of the World

Usenet ``newsgroups'' can be something of a misnomer. They may be interesting, informative and educational, but they are often not news, at least, not what you'd think of as news. But there are several sources of news, sports and weather on the Net.

One of the largest is Clarinet, a company in Cupertino, Calf., that distributes wire-service news and columns, along with a news service devoted to computers, in Usenet form.

USA Today also has a presence on the Net, through the Cleveland Free-Net system, and we'll show you how to get news of eastern Europe and Brazil as well.

Distributed in Usenet form, Clarinet stories and columns are organized into more than 100 newsgroups (in this case, a truly appropriate name), some of them with an extremely narrow focus, for example, @news{clari.news.gov.taxes}. The general news and sports come from United Press International; the computer news from the NewsBytes service; the features from several syndicates.

Because Clarinet charges for its service, not all host systems carry its dispatches. Those that do carry them as Usenet groups starting with @news{clari.*} As with other Usenet hierarchies, these are named starting with broad area and ending with more specific categories. Some of these include business news (@news{clari.biz}); general national and foreign news, politics and the like (@news{clari.news}), sports (@news{clari.sports}); columns by Mike Royko, Miss Manners, Dave Barry and others (@news{clari.feature}); and NewsBytes computer and telecommunications reports (@news{clari.nb}). Because Clarinet started in Canada, there is a separate set of @news{clari.canada} newsgroups.

The clari.nb newsgroups are divided into specific computer types (@news{clari.nb.apple}, for example).

Clari news groups feature stories updated around the clock. There are even a couple of ``bulletin'' newsgroups for breaking stories: @news{clari.news.bulletin} and @news{clari.news.urgent}. Clarinet also sets up new newsgroups for breaking stories that become ongoing ones (such as major natural disasters, coups in large countries and the like).

Occasionally, you will see stories in clari newsgroups that just don't seem to belong there. Stories about former Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry, for example, often wind interspersed among columns by Dave Barry.

This happens because of the way wire services work. UPI uses three-letter codes to route its stories to the newspapers and radio stations that make up most of its clientele, and harried editors on deadline sometimes punch in the wrong code.

USA Today

If your host system doesn't carry the clari newsgroups, you might be able to keep up with the news a different way over the Net. USA Today has been something of an online newspaper pioneer, selling its stories to bulletin-board and online systems across the country. Cleveland Free-Net provides the online version of USA Today (along with all its other services) for free. Currently, the paper only publishes five days a week, so you'll have to get your weekend news fix elsewhere.

Telnet: @host{freenet-in-a.cwru.edu} or @host{freenet-in-b.cwru.edu}

After you connect and log in, look for this menu entry: NPTN/USA TODAY HEADLINE NEWS. Type the number next to it and hit enter. You'll then get a menu listing a series of broad categories, such as sports and telecommunications. Choose one, and you'll get a yet another menu, listing the ten most recent dates of publication. Each of these contains one-paragraph summaries of the day's news in that particular subject.

The World Today

Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty are American radio stations that broadcast to the former Communist countries of eastern Europe. Every day, their news departments prepare a summary of news in those countries, which is then disseminated via the Net. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to


Leave the subject line blank, and as a message, write:

subscribe rferl-l Your Name

Daily Brazilian news updates are available (in Portuguese) from the University of Sao Paulo. Use anonymous ftp to connect to


Use cd to switch to the whois directory. The news summaries are stored in files with this form: NEWS.23OCT92;1. But to get them, leave off the semicolon and the one, and don't capitalize anything, for example:

get news.23oct92


The @news{clari.net.newusers} newsgroup on Usenet provides a number of articles about Clarinet and ways of finding news stories of interest to you.

@vskip 0pt plus 1filll @flushright ``In a medium in which a News piece takes a minute and an `In-Depth' piece takes two minutes, the Simple will drive out the Complex.''

--- Frank Mankiewicz @end flushright