EVENTS

ARAFAT PLANS GAZA TRIP TOMORROW Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, after weeks of hesitation, will go to areas under Palestinian self-rule for a short visit starting tomorrow, a Palestinian aide said. Nabil Shaath said Mr. Arafat would come to Cairo today and set out by land tomorrow for the historic and long-awaited return. Arafat's failure to visit the Gaza Strip and the small West Bank town of Jericho eight weeks after he and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed a self-rule agreement had raised eyebrows in the autonomous areas. But Israel quickly cast doubt on Arafat's travel plans, saying there may not be time to make the arrangements. Mr. Shaath, in Cairo on a visit, said Arafat would probably stay in Gaza until about July 6, when he has to go to Paris to collect a UN prize and attend a meeting of donors. Hong Kong reforms

Legislators clashed yesterday over whether to approve political reforms that have angered China and threatened Hong Kong with a rocky ride to Chinese rule in 1997. The debate was a showdown between lawmakers who fear economic instability if the reforms are passed and democracy advocates who distrust China's promise of maintaining the territory's capitalistic system after the Chinese takeover. Lawmakers rejected 29 to 28 a major challenge to the political reform bill by the pro-business Liberal Party, which is eager to mollify China and keep the 1997 handover smooth. Part of Brady law voided

A federal judge in Tucson, Ariz., has struck down part of the Brady law, saying it is unconstitutional for the government to require local police to check the background of potential handgun buyers. US District Judge John Roll said the background checks violate the Fifth Amendment ban on vague criminal laws. Fighting rages in Bosnia

Fighting between Serbs and Muslims for a key supply route in Bosnia-Herzegovina has intensified, with the United Nations yesterday expressing consternation at the collapse of the latest truce. Fighting is back to levels seen before a month-long truce began there on June 10. US rocket destroyed

A Pegasus rocket was destroyed by remote control three minutes after launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., because it malfunctioned. Also lost was a 767-pound satellite carrying Air Force experiments. Mandela declares disaster

President Mandela visited storm-damaged squatter areas near Cape Town yesterday and declared them disaster areas. He and four Cabinet ministers viewed the ramshackle shanties damaged or destroyed by high winds and torrential rains from severe winter storms. The declaration makes the affected areas including the storm-wracked, oil-soaked Cape Town coast eligible for immediate emergency aid. Dollar woes in Tokyo

The dollar fell to its fourth record low in six sessions against the yen yesterday, and concern about the effect on Japan's economy sent prices lower on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The dollar finished at 99.27 yen, its lowest close in Tokyo or elsewhere since modern exchange rates were established following World War II.

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