News In Brief

THE US

Hurricane Felix was gusting toward Bermuda yesterday. With the threat of 75-m.p.h. winds striking the island, its government debated whether to put off a vote on independence from Britain. Meanwhile, on the mainland, from the Carolinas northward, residents readied for Felix, the most potent storm in two years.

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Funeral services for Mickey Mantle were expected to be held today in Dallas. Mantle's former teammate Bobby Richardson planned to officiate. A bouquet of pink carnations sat under Mantle's plaque at the baseball hall of fame. And in Yankee stadium, fans gazed at the roof over the right field grandstand. "The Mick" homered onto it twice. No one else has come close.

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As Ross Perot's United We Stand America convention ended on Sunday, its delegates agreed on a series of needed reforms. They included: ending unregulated "soft money" contributions to political parties; a ban on lobbyists helping Congress draft legislation; a constitutional balanced-budget amendment; and a law requiring any federal tax increase be put to voters. The group hasn't decided whether it will become a third party.

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The Social Security trust fund will be sound until 2050, Treasury Secretary Rubin said Sunday. His comments are part of an administration campaign to restore public confidence in the troubled system and save it from GOP budget cuts aimed at two Social Security programs: Medicare and Medicaid. The GOP has said it wants to squeeze $270 billion from Medicare, but does not have specifics.

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The US will try to mend strained relations with China partly through military channels, the US Chief of Pacific forces said Monday. A "hiccup" in Sino-US ties, prompted China to postpone a high-level military contact last month. But the US plans to invite Chinese veterans to a war ceremony next month and step up US port visits.

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Pro-tobacco lawmakers will fight the FDA in its effort to regulate tobacco, said Congressman Rose (D) of North Carolina, on ABC TV Sunday. He warned that he and others will impose further budget cuts and laws restricting regulation. He also accused President Clinton of targeting the tobacco industry for political reasons. Meanwhile, US Tobacco has filed suit against the FDA, claiming that its commissioner lacks jurisdiction to regulate smokeless tobacco.

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A swing band played, veterans jitterbugged, and the original kissing duo reenacted their celebratory smooch. All were a part of 50th anniversary V-J Day festivities in New York's Times Square on Sunday.

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Shannon Faulkner was the first cadet out of the barracks at the Citadel yesterday morning. At 5:20 a.m. she led the freshman class into the dining hall for their last meal before "hell week" begins. During the week, cadets will learn how to march and salute, and will respond to upperclassmen in one of only three ways: "Yes, Sir," "No, Sir," and "No excuse, Sir."

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Def Con III, the computer hackers convention, turned out to be a lot tamer than many Las Vegas conventions. Of course, attendees reprogrammed the hotel TV system and set up a pirate radio station, but for the most part they listened to speakers and tried to debug a super high-speed line that was supposed to give them access to the Internet.

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The Archer Daniels Midland executive who helped expose his company's price-fixing scheme tried to commit suicide, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. Mark Whitacre was once in line to be president of the giant grain-processing firm. But soon after his informing became public, the company accused him of stealing $2.5 million and fired him. He is now recovering.

THE WORLD

Jordan's King Hussein, who is harboring Iraqi defectors, told an Israeli newspaper that now was the right time for change in Baghdad. Saddam Hussein's defector son-in-law, Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel Hassan, appealed for the overthrow of the Baghdad government and hinted he might be Iraq's future leader. He reportedly has the backing of the CIA, which helped him coordinate his defection, according to The Jerusalem Post. But Kuwaitis view the defector with hostility. The defection could threaten the secret channels that have enabled Iraq to survive five years of UN economic sanctions.

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The Bosnian president said Sunday he was resigned to the partition of Bosnia but ruled out swapping "safe area" Gorazde. The southeastern enclave reportedly is part of a land swap in a new peace plan pitched by the US. Although not public, the plan reportedly includes a new threat of NATO airstrikes and deployment of ground troops from Muslim countries if rebel Serbs refuse. Meanwhile, fighting continued yesterday. Sources said the Bosnian Army was moving slowly, apparently meeting stiff resistance.

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Israel and the PLO began fleshing out their partial accord on expanding Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank in talks yesterday in Israel. Israel's government, meanwhile, approved the agreement on Sunday. The Israeli army is extending closure imposed on 1 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip until Tuesday afternoon. Police questioned three Jewish settlers yesterday regarding the shooting death of a Palestinian on the West Bank. Some 250 settlers rioted in Jerusalem to protest detention of a man suspected in the shooting.

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India ruled out yesterday swapping jailed Kashmiri separatists for four Western hostages, a day after the body of a fifth was found. Indian officials indicated they would consider a military raid on the hostage takers, who had set today as a deadline to meet their demands or they would kill the remaining hostages.

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As worry grows that a two-week-old peace accord in Chechnya is near collapse, Russian President Yeltsin met officials yesterday to discuss the deadlocked negotiations in Grozny. The Chechens' refusal to disarm and help track down a rebel commander, the Russians' reluctance to withdraw troops, and a stalled prisoner swap has seen the trust established during peace talks sink to a low ebb.

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Japanese police yesterday sought new charges, this time in the death of a kidnap victim, against the leader of the doomsday group accused in the March 20 Tokyo gas attack and several of his followers. Shoko Asahara already has been charged with murder for the gassing, staging a gas attack in another city, and causing the death of an errant group member, in addition to drug charges.

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Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams warned of more violence in Northern Ireland after a weekend of some of the worst clashes since the cease-fire nearly a year ago. He said Sunday that Britain is "strangling" chances for peace and reminded demonstrators that the IRA has not disbanded.

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Residents in northern Mexico awoke Sunday to damage left by Tropical Storm Gabrielle. Six people died in the storm, which also destroyed bridges and highways. At least five other deaths were blamed on Hurricane Flossie, which hit last week.

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Japan marks the 50th anniversary of its defeat in World War II today with the focus on whether Premier Murayama will offer his country's first clear-cut apology for its wartime actions. (Stories, Pages 9 and 16.)

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Nick Leeson, the trader facing extradition to Singapore for his part in bringing down Barings Bank, stands to earn $4.8 million by selling his story to pay for his defense.

ETCETERA

This is the right time for change, but it's not possible to determine [when it will happen]. If a change will be made, it will only be a change for the good."

- Jordan's King Hussein, who is harboring Iraqi defectors, on prospects for a leadership change in Iraq

A computer program devised by a former English teacher performs as well as people in grading essays, its designer claims. It's a development that could someday mean a lot more writing for high school and college students. Researcher Ellis Page presented his findings Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in New York.

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The discovery of four undisturbed, man-made caves in the chalky hills of Qumran, near where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, has raised hopes of finding more of the ancient manuscripts. Archaeologists announced the discovery Friday, hoping to excavate the caves before the Qumran area of the West Bank is handed over to the Palestinian Authority. They will start digging in November.

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The Victoria Park bowling club in London has banished Henry the parrot from its grounds. It seems the bird kept repeating unflattering comments that some members uttered after shots. Then sometimes he would cackle - or sob.

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Bakers in Curico, Chile, claim they made the world's largest cake last weekend. It weighed 25 tons and contained 10,000 eggs and 9 tons of flour.

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What did King Tut wear? A British expert in ancient textiles has completed cataloging the young Egyptian pharoah's wardrobe.

Top-Grossing Films, Aug. 11-13

(Preliminary figures)

1. "Dangerous Minds," $14.8 million

2. "A Walk in the Clouds," $9.6 million

3. "Something to Talk About," $8.6 million

3. "Waterworld," $8.6 million

5. "Babe," $7 million

6. "The Net," $5.4 million

7. "Apollo 13," $5 million

8. "A Kid in King Arthur's Court," $4.5 million

8. "Virtuosity," $4.5 million

10. "Clueless," $3.2 million

- Associated Press

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