Scores of motorists in Nevada and California were caught by the region's worst snowstorm in years. Poor visibility, scores of accidents, and the danger of avalanches closed stretches of highways that link Nevada and California. Dozens of trucks were parked for miles along I-80 in northern California. The California Highway Patrol said more than four feet of snow fell at Donner Summit by Tuesday, with fierce winds piling up 12-foot drifts. Harsh, wintry weather also hit the Pacific Northwest, the Rockies,

and the northern Plains, where ice and snow made traveling equally perilous. Cigarette exports soar

The United States exported a record 188 billion cigarettes worth nearly $4 billion in fiscal 1992, a tobacco industry group says. The figures come amid criticism from health advocates that the industry is shifting its marketing focus to third world countries as smoking in some industrialized nations drops. Clemency for Harris

Jean Harris, convicted for the 1980 murder of "Scarsdale Diet" doctor Herman Tarnower, got the news that she'd been granted clemency by New York Gov. Mario Cuomo just before she underwent heart surgery at Westchester County Hospital. The former headmistress of an exclusive school for girls could be out of prison in a matter of weeks after almost 12 years behind bars. The governor had denied Ms. Harris clemency in 1988 and 1990, but granted her request Tuesday, citing her "above-average behavioral record"

in prison and her work with inmates. Bright US economic sign

The government's chief economic forecasting gauge leaped 0.8 percent in November, the strongest gain in 10 months, the Commerce Department said yesterday in Washington. The increase in the Index of Leading Indicators, the second in a row, was a sign that President-elect Clinton will enjoy an improving economy during his first months in office. In a less rosy development, new-home sales fell 8.3 percent in November, the second consecutive drop and the worst decline in eight months, the government reported . Missionary released

Muslim bandits in the Philippines have freed an American missionary after 68 days of captivity in exchange for a ransom of token gifts. Brother Gerald Fraszczak, a Franciscan medical missionary from Chicago, was freed late Tuesday in the remote town of Tipo-Tipo. The kidnappers are believed to be a breakaway group of the Muslim Moro National Liberation Front, which has been fighting for 20 years to establish an Islamic state in the southern Philippines. Religious leaders had repeatedly turned down a $200 ,000 ransom demand from the abductors. Taj Mahal protected

Security has been beefed-up around the Taj Mahal in Angra, India, and two nearby Muslim-built monuments for fear of attacks by Hindu zealots. Metal detectors have been placed at the entrance of the famed marble structure and antiterrorist commandos have been posted outside. Fear of attacks rose after Hindu militants demolished a Muslim shrine in the town of Ayodhya Dec. 6, setting off nationwide Hindu-Muslim riots.

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