SPACE SHUTTLE: UP, UP, AND AWAY The space shuttle Columbia thundered toward orbit yesterday on a record-long medical research mission featuring the first animal dissections in space. The 2,000-ton spaceship blasted off with seven astronauts and 48 rats at 10:53 a.m. EDT, piercing a mostly clear sky as it headed out over the Atlantic Ocean. It was NASA's third attempt to send Columbia on the 14-day flight, the longest planned for a shuttle. ``Guys, the third time's a charm,'' orbiter test director Brian Monborne assured the crew before liftoff. Turmoil in Haiti

Tensions rose yesterday in Haiti as thousands of frightened people fled the capital, residents went on a panic buying spree, and a fleet of United States and Canadian warships stood off the coast. (US policy, Page 1.) Sporadic gunfire echoed in Port-au-Prince overnight as supporters of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and armed right-wing groups committed to preventing his return planned fresh protests. Standoff in India

Police fired bullets and tear gas to chase away protesters yesterday in the first violent clash between Muslim separatists and security forces in the three-day-old standoff at Kashmir's holiest shrine. Dozens of Muslim militants and civilians, meanwhile, remained holed up inside Hazratbal mosque without food and electricity today, refusing to surrender to the Indian army surrounding the building. No bidders for towers

A second auction of two unfinished, leaning tower blocks in central Madrid, which have become a symbol of Spain's economic recession, failed to attract any bidders yesterday despite a big cut in the reserve price. An official of the court where the auction was held said there were no takers for the 25-story towers, which lean spectacularly toward each other across Madrid's main boulevard, at the asking price of $485 million. A third auction, with no minimum price, is scheduled to be held in November. Mao portrait in space

In an effort to boost their sagging economy, the Chinese have sent a diamond-studded portrait of Chairman Mao into space to orbit the Earth 128 times. They plan to auction off the portrait after recovering the rocket that carried it. Polish prime minister

President Lech Walesa formally appointed a new prime minister yesterday who is backed by a two-party coalition with communist roots. Waldemar Pawlak is the choice of the Democratic Left Alliance, made up of former communists, and his Polish Peasants' Party, once a part of the Communist regime. The parties formed a majority coalition after winning the Sept. 19 parliamentary elections. Sculley switches jobs

Former Apple Computer chief John Sculley will become chairman and chief executive of Spectrum Information Technologies Inc., a cellular technology company, Spectrum said yesterday. Mr. Sculley resigned as chairman of Apple on Friday in an apparent ouster after an extraordinary run at one of the world's best-known computer companies. Radioactive waste dumped

Russia began dumping liquid radioactive waste into the Sea of Japan on Sunday, saying the step was essential to prevent possible contamination of coastal waters. The Ministry of Environmental Protection said the low-level radioactive waste came from a ship-repair plant near the Russian port of Vladivostok, across the sea from Japan. `Show Boat' draws protest

The Toronto revival of the musical ``Show Boat'' opened Sunday to Dixie music, but spectators were met outside the theater by shouts from about 150 protesters. ``This show is inherently racist,'' said Tidy Francis, an executive member of the Black Action Defense Committee. Chevy chased off air

``The Chevy Chase Show,'' savagely mauled by critics, was canceled Sunday by Fox Broadcasting Company, becoming the first casualty of the late-night TV talk-show wars. Since premiering Sept. 7, Mr. Chase had been drawing fewer viewers than shows by David Letterman, Ted Koppel, and Jay Leno. He did, however, outdo Arsenio Hall.

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