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News In Brief

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Visiting US diplomats met twice with Nigeria's new military ruler but also with opposition politicians and recently freed political prisoners in a bid to repair strained relations and promote democracy. Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar is scheduled to address the nation tonight, and many Nigerians expect him to discuss the fate of apparent 1993 presidential election winner Moshood Abiola, who remains in custody despite indications that his release was imminent.

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The Palestine Liberation Organization's UN "observer status" would be upgraded to nonvoting member under an Arab-sponsored resolution that was expected to pass in the General Assembly. The resolution was opposed by Israel and the US, which argued it would jeopardize peace talks.

Some of the worst summer flooding in modern history killed at least 376 people in China and caused economic losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, officials said. Rains intensified by El Nio affected more than 20 million people from central and southern China and spread to the normally drought-stricken north. In the central province of Hunan, 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes.

There was some good news for the sagging reelection hopes of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl as the country's job market showed "unusually strong" improvement in June, officials said. They reported a drop in unemployment of 122,300 for the month - due, in part, to a government-sponsored job-generation program. High unemployment has been the central issue in the campaign for Germany's Sept. 27 election.

Almost unnoticed amid the national fervor over defending its World Cup soccer title, campaigning officially opened for Brazil's Oct. 4 presidential election. The key issue, analysts say, is whether incumbent Fernando Henrique Cardoso can win enough votes to avoid a runoff against leftist opposition leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva or ex-Finance Minister Ciro Gomes. Cardoso, the first president to seek a second consecutive term, leads in most early opinion polls.

At least seven people died, dozens more were hurt, and 180 were arrested as Indonesian police and soldiers clashed with supporters of a banned separatist organization, reports said. The violence in mineral-rich Irian Jaya Province is similar to that in East Timor, where insurgents have been campaigning for independence. The Army refused to comment on casualties, but its chief of staff warned of "countermeasures" if the Irian Jaya separatists raised their flag in public.

Etceteras

" Focusing on symbols likely to divide, rather than on steps to promote cooperation,

will lead us nowhere." - US Ambassador Bill Richardson, arguing against upgrading Palestinian observer status at the UN to nonvoting state.

Patrick Sweeney and Laurie Darfler have been close friends for years, are members of the same running club, and were both entered in last weekend's Adirondack Distance Run at Bolton Landing, N.Y. Yet from the time they toed the starting line, they did everything they could to avoid each other. Out of fierce competitiveness? No, it had more to do with tradition. You see, awaiting them at race's end was a wedding ceremony - their own. And since she ran in her gown, he wasn't supposed to see her until it was time to exchange vows.

The cozy-looking house had flowers blooming in the front yard. Visible through one window was a downstairs bathroom. Nearby stood a double-wide mobile home suitable for, say, a mother-in-law apartment. But like a movie set, it was all a faade. And when drug agents arrived at the Eureka, Calif., property, they found a sophisticated marijuana-growing operation. If the three people busted are found guilty, they could end up in a far more substantial dwelling - prison.

The Day's List

'Armageddon' Has Less Than Stellar Weekend

Disney's costliest film, "Arma-geddon," pulled in $34.8 million in its weekend debut - a lot of money, but not enough to merit blockbuster status. Analysts noted that the film, about a Texas-size asteroid headed for Earth, had little competition over the holiday weekend, but said ticket sales may have lagged because July 4 festivities fell on Saturday, usually a big day for moviegoing. The reported grosses for top releases at North American theaters July 3-5 (in millions):

1. "Armageddon" $36.1

2. "Dr. Dolittle" 19.7

3. "Mulan" 11.5

4. "Out of Sight" 6.6

5. "The X-Files" 6.3

6. "The Truman Show" 6.0

7. "Six Days, Seven Nights" 5.8

8. "A Perfect Murder" 3.3

9. "Hope Floats" 1.6

10. "The Horse Whisperer" 1.3

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP