News Currents

MIDDLE EAST

Lebanese former rebel general Michel Aoun called yesterday for next week's Middle East peace talks to guarantee Lebanon's sovereignty and the withdrawal of foreign troops. He said he feared a that peace settlement could split Lebanon between Syria and Israel....France said yesterday it was ready to send 10 warplanes to help enforce a "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq to protect Shiite Muslems. UNITED STATES

The number of Americans filing first-time unemployment claims soared by 71,000 the week of Aug. 8, to reach 474,000, the Labor Department said yesterday. The report reflected the second round of filings after General Motors' two-week, company-wide shutdown in late July.... In California, 14,000 people were ordered evacuated from their homes in the Sierra Nevada foothills outside Sacramento as a blaze charged across 15,000 acres of rugged terrain pocked with treacherous mine shafts. Officials said the fir e could double in size before it is contained.... Emergency authorities in North Carolina yesterday urged about 250 families living along the northeast Cape Fear River to evacuate. Residents said flooding, due to heavy rain, is the worst since 1962. ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

The US deployed its Patriot missile system in South Korea for the first time yesterday as part of a joint high-tech military exercise, a US military spokesman said....Activity in Bangladesh stopped yesterday as a 12-hour, anti-government strike took hold. Fifteen opposition parties called the strike in protest against the shooting on Monday of Rashed Khan Menon, the lone member of parliament from the Workers' Party. Menon survived the attack.

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