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North Korea has confirmed that hundreds of United States servicemen taken prisoner during the Korean War were taken to China and never returned, says Sen. Bob Smith (R) of New Hampshire, a member of the Senate panel on POW-MIA affairs. "We've got to press [the Chinese] for information," Mr. Smith said Tuesday upon his return from North Korea, where he met with top government officials. Smith said North Korean officials told him the Chinese oversaw POW camps in North Korea and in Manchuria, China. First fiber-optic state

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Regulators have approved a plan that could make New Jersey the first state completely wired with fiber-optic cable and open the way for everything from video telephones to electronic classifieds. New Jersey Bell received the go-ahead Tuesday from the state Board of Regulatory Commissioners to replace some 56 million miles of copper wire by the year 2010 at a cost of $1.5 billion. Wolf-kill order lifted

A state plan to shoot hundreds of wolves from helicopters in Alaska was canceled Tuesday after animal-rights activists urged tourists to boycott the state. Hunting groups attacked the decision not to cull the wolf population to boost the numbers of moose and caribou. Tentative football pact

The National Football League reached a tentative agreement Tuesday with its players that would for the first time allow unrestricted free agency, giving athletes the right to sell their services to the highest bidder and switch teams after their contracts expire. Bakker's sentence cut

A lawyer for Jim Bakker says the fallen television evangelist could be home by next Christmas after a judge cut 10 years off his prison sentence. Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in prison after his 1989 fraud conviction for bilking followers out of more than $160 million. But US District Judge Graham Mullen, who later reduced the term to 18 years, decided Tuesday to cut it to eight years. Wal-Mart apologizes

David Glass, the chief executive of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., apologized Tuesday from its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters for signs in some stores claiming that goods were made in the US when they were imported from overseas. The apology came just hours before a "Dateline NBC" television report contended that Wal-Mart was importing increasing quantities of merchandise. Goods orders down

A huge drop in aircraft sales pushed durable goods orders down 1.9 percent in November, but Americans boosted spending in other areas as their incomes continued to rise, the government reported yesterday. Plants consolidated

The US Energy Department in Washington announced Tuesday it will consolidate the nonnuclear part of its nuclear weapons production system at a facility near Kansas City, Mo., a cost-saving move that could mean the loss of hundreds of weapons plant jobs in Ohio, Florida, and Colorado. Chinese refugees at sea

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US Coast Guard ships escorted a ship packed with Chinese refugees to a US base in San Francisco Bay early Tuesday after finding the 180 passengers, who left Taiwan Nov. 4, were out of drinking water and living in "abominable" conditions at sea, officials said. Drug sweep in China

An 80-day drug crackdown in southwest China netted more than 850 criminals, more than 2,000 pounds of narcotics, and more than 350 firearms, an official report from Beijing said yesterday. Cambodians flee

Continued fighting between Khmer Rouge guerrillas and troops of the Phnom Penh government has sent more than 11,000 people fleeing from their homes in northwestern Cambodia, a United Nations spokesman said yesterday.

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