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Births to teenagers fell for a seventh straight year in 1998 - and the rate of births to those of high school age hit a 40-year low, the National Center for Health Statistics said. It reported 98.7 pregnancies for every 1,000 teens age 15 to 19, the lowest rate since 1976, when reliable statistics were first collected. The birth rate among the youngest teens and preteens, ages 10 to 14, fell 6 percent, reaching its lowest level since 1969.

A probe began into the crash near Mina, S.D., of a plane carrying pro-golf star Payne Stewart and at least four other people. The chartered Learjet, which was heading to Texas when it left Orlando, Fla., soon lost contact with air-traffic controllers. Officials said it may have lost cabin pressure, causing those aboard to slowly lose consciousness. Air Force jets sent after the Learjet were unable to aid it. Known to be aboard were Stewart, who won 18 tournaments as a professional, including two US Open titles; his agents, Robert Fraley and Van Ardan; and pilots Michael Kling and Stephanie Bellegarrigue.

President Clinton compromised with Congress, signing a Defense Department bill, but vetoing appropriations for the Commerce, Justice, and State Departments. That left him fighting Republicans over five funding bills, in which he wants $5 billion to $10 billion more for hiring teachers and police officers, buying park land, foreign aid, and other programs - and it raised the possibility that another stopgap resolution will be needed this week to keep government operating until spending issues are settled.

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Rep. Tom Campbell (R) of California was expected to unveil plans to explore a Senate campaign against Democratic incumbent Dianne Feinstein (D) in next year's election. A source close to Campbell said the lawmaker would set up an exploratory committee but stop short of formally entering the race until he's sure he has the necessary financial support.

The Boy Scouts of America asked the Supreme Court to allow it to maintain a ban on homosexuals as Scouts or leaders, claiming a constitutional right to do so. The 6 million-member group urged the court to free it from state antidiscrimination statutes and, in particular, from a New Jersey public-accommodations law that led a state court to rule that the Boy Scouts acted illegally in dismissing a homosexual as a deputy scoutmaster.

Overnite Transportation Co. brought in replacement workers to counter a strike called by the Teamsters Union in protest of alleged unfair labor practices. Company officials at the nation's largest nonunion package carrier said no shipments were halted or delayed as trucks crossed picket lines at about 40 terminals - well short of a union pledge to strike each of the carrier's 166. The Richmond, Va.-based firm, which employs more than 13,000 people, is a subsidiary of Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific.

The two Democratic presidential contenders are to square off tonight in the first of their televised debates. Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bill Bradley were preparing for an hour-long "town hall meeting" at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. The event was to be carried nationally by CNN.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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