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STORMS RAKE U.S. EAST, WEST COASTS

A tornado cut a 12-mile-long swath through rural northern Florida early Saturday, killing one person, injuring dozens more and damaging or destroying scores of mobile homes. Farther north along the line of stormy weather that hit Florida, wind gusted as high as 145 m.p.h. in North Carolina, killing two people and causing dozens of injuries and extensive damage. On the West Coast, more than 200,000 customers lost power early Saturday as a storm blasted California with heavy rain, wind, and snow.

N.Y.C. crime rate falls

The city's homicide rate fell nearly 19 percent - or by 365 murders - last year, the largest decline in two decades, city officials said Saturday. Overall, reports of serious crime in the city dropped for the fourth straight year.

Hewlett-Packard flaw

Hewlett-Packard Company has discovered that 1.5 million of its popular computer printers are flawed and plans to distribute fix-it kits to correct the problem, the Sunday Oregonian reported. The company discovered that its inkjet printers made in Vancouver, Wash., between June 1993 and March 1994 sometimes fail to grab the top sheet of paper in their feeder trays. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company will send roller-repair kits immediately to all registered owners of affected printers.

US Sen. Phil Gramm waltzed to victory Saturday as Louisiana Republicans rated a dozen 1996 Republican presidential prospects, cementing the feisty Texan as the race's early pacesetter. Mr. Gramm won 72 percent of the vote as nearly 1,300 delegates to the Louisiana state Republican convention staged the first of what is likely to be a half-dozen or more presidential straw polls this year. Coming in second with 12 percent was conservative commentator Patrick Buchanan. Third, with 5 percent, was Lamar Alexander, the former Tennessee governor and education secretary.

Quakes rock northern Japan

Two earthquakes and an aftershock shook Japan on Saturday, injuring at least 30 people with falling debris or small fires less than two weeks after another powerful tremor. The first quake, with a preliminary 6.9 magnitude, hit northern Japan. Buildings rattled and shook, and eight major train lines in the region were halted, railway officials said.

No hockey?

National Hockey League owners rejected the players' latest contract offer Saturday and gave the union a counter-proposal with a deadline of noon tomorrow to save the season. The NHL Board of Governors voted 19 to 7 to turn down what players had said was their final offer. The board also voted to cancel the season tomorrow if an agreement is not reached, Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

Titian stolen

Insurers offered a ''very substantial'' reward Saturday for a $7.7 million Titian painting stolen from an aristocrat's home in Britain. The ''Rest on the Flight into Egypt'' was stolen from the main drawing room at the Marquess of Bath's Longleat House in an overnight raid.

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