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News In Brief

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied Israeli news reports that he plans to offer the Palestinians less than 40 percent of the West Bank in talks on a permanent peace pact. Haaretz newspaper said the plan would give the Palestinians no land link between the northern and southern parts of their territory in the West Bank. The Palestinians now control 27 percent of the West Bank. Israel also plans to set aside $16.5 million for further development of Jewish settlements, the Treasury Department said.

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Nigeria sent hundreds of troops to Sierra Leone to increase pressure on the leaders of a military coup to surrender. The troops will bolster other Nigerians stationed outside the capital, Freetown, since 1994. The UN hoped to start flying its workers out of the country, and Lebanon evacuated 242 Lebanese women and children. Sunday's coup was Sierra Leone's third in five years.

French markets dropped to a three-month low against the deutsche mark Wednesday on fears that the opposition left might win Sunday's runoff vote. Socially minded Gaullist Philippe Seguin, the outgoing National Assembly Speaker and a favorite among French voters, has emerged as the man to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Alain Jupp if the right wins the vote. Some 1,183 candidates will contest runoffs in 565 of France's 577 National Assembly constituencies in the second round of elections.

Opposition factions attacked the Taliban army in northeastern and central Afghanistan, and scores of soldiers were killed or wounded in a battle north of Kabul. The Taliban also began peace talks with opponents in Mazar-i-Sharif, where the Taliban was recently driven out, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said.

Two Somali factions announced a cease-fire in Cairo after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Hussein Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohamed said they would invite other factions to begin reconciliation talks to end Somalia's civil war, which began in 1991. Two previous cease-fire agreements between the two leaders broke down in clan fighting.

Papua New Guinea unveiled a plan to peacefully end a nine-year secessionist rebellion on Bougainville Island. The strategy includes negotiations with the rebels, increasing Bougainvilleans' control of their own affairs, and efforts for peacekeeping operations for the Papua New Guinea military on the island. Thousands have been killed in the South Pacific conflict.


"There are some who now suggest that the military is preaching Victorian values in the Age of Aquarius.... They would have the military define decency down."

- Defense Secretary William Cohen at the Air Force Academy's graduation, saying high standards are critical in wartime.

Rush-hour commuters in suburban Detroit got a break from the monotony when an armored truck spilled as much as $600,000 onto a freeway. Some commuters helped pick up the cash when police officers closed the highway for 1-1/2 hours to cleanup. But others couldn't resist the finders-keepers rule: Authorities believe one man took off with as much as $20,000 in $20 bills.

A garbage truck in historic Bristol, Vt., has extra horsepower to get the job done. Selectmen voted to approve a horse-drawn wagon to cover the eight-mile garbage route. Officials say it will add to the community's friendly, small-town image. The driver plans to carry a shovel to pick up after Luke and Zack, too.

Here's some food for thought. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor plans to recycle food students don't eat instead of sending the leftovers to a landfill. As much as 130 tons of food from dormitory kitchens per year will be added to yard compost piles.

The Day's List

Polysyllabic Stumblers in National Spelling Bee

Some 245 fourth-through-ninth-graders participated in the National Spelling Bee in Washington. Here are some of the tough words - with Webster's definitions added - that knocked 129 students out of the first round.

crambo: cabbage repeatedly served

ginglymus: a hinge joint allowing motion in one plane only

grissino: a long, slender, crusty bread stick

hebetude: the condition of being dull and lethargic

lacteal: of or like milk, milky

lapideous: stony

mucilaginous: slimy, sticky

myrmecologist: one who studies the science of ants

polyphagism: feeding on a variety of plants or animals

ratiocinate: to reckon, deliberate, consider

thesmothete: one who lays down

xylophagous: eating, boring into, or destroying wood

- Associated Press