A United States fighter jet yesterday fired a missile at an Iraqi ground missile site in the northern no-fly zone after the site's radar search beam was directed against a French reconnaissance plane. However, a United Nations plane bringing back a chemical weapons destruction team and a helicopter inspection team had already landed safely in Baghdad. Iraq had been insisting the inspectors use Iraqi planes, a demand that would have prevented surprise UN inspections of suspected weapons sites and otherwis e compromised the independence of the inspectors. Clinton to act on gays

President Clinton will act quickly to lift the ban on homosexuals in the US military, ordering the Pentagon to stop asking recruits about their sexual orientation or discharging members of the armed services found to be gay, said Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts. Clinton promised during his campaign to end the ban on homosexuals in the armed services, and then he renewed the pledge after his election. Military leaders have long been opposed to allowing homosexuals to serve in the armed forces and h ave discharged many men and women found to be gay. Guatemalans return

Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu welcomed about 2,400 Guatemalans as they crossed the Mexican border Wednesday, the first group of refugees to end a decade of exile from a still-smoldering civil war. She met the refugees at La Mesilla as they slowly rolled into Guatemala aboard 76 buses. Hundreds of relatives, friends, and officials joined in the welcoming party. `It is the first time I have been in Guatemala since I was 19 years old," said returnee Pedro Ramirez, now 29. "I am happy to be home." Court rules on abuse

The Supreme Court this week refused to let public-school teachers and administrators be sued in federal court by students who were sexually abused by fellow students. The justices, without comment, let stand a ruling in a Pennsylvania case that said teachers and other school officials have no constitutional duty to protect students from such abuse. Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, who starred in films such as "Roman Holiday" and "My Fair Lady," was mourned Thursday as a great actress and a a true friend of children. She died in her home in Tolochenaz, Switzerland, on Wednesday. Hepburn epitomized high-fashion elegance and inspired many designers with her beauty, but she spent her last years traveling the globe in jeans and T-shirts working for needy children as a UN ambassador. US to protect steel

The Bush administration in its waning hours moved to protect the US steel industry from low-cost imports, a senior Commerce Department official has told the Associated Press. A presidential order said duties of 26 percent to 148 percent would be needed to offset the artificially low prices of Brazilian, French, German, and British steel, the official said. The US International Trade Commission now has until Feb. 25 to make a final decision on whether to impose the duties.

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