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Commuters had to get creative yesterday to navigate southern California's earthquake-battered highways. Many companies resumed normal business hours yesterday after cleaning up behind the Jan. 17 6.6-magnitude quake, and hundreds of thousands of teachers and students will return to the classroom by today. Meanwhile, the Clinton administration will ask Congress for at least $4 billion in earthquake relief and officials say the figure could go much higher, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. Administration officials are braced for resistance in Congress. Abortion foes can be sued

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The US Supreme Court ruled yesterday that abortion rights advocates may use the federal racketeering law RICO to sue anti-abortion protesters who block women's access to clinics performing the procedure. The unanimous ruling is a big victory for the National Organization for Women, which took the case to the High Court. It is a potentially devastating loss for the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. Lower courts had thrown out NOW's nationwide class-action suit against Operation Rescue and others. Japan reforms compromise

Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa said yesterday he is ready to seek a new parliamentary vote on political reforms to reverse the major defeat he suffered last week. Mr. Hosokawa's package of anti-corruption reforms was defeated in Parliament's upper house last Friday. The ensuing uncertainty sent the Tokyo stock market's benchmark index plunging 4.9 percent yesterday. Leaders of Hosokawa's ruling coalition say they want to work out a compromise with their main opposition, the Liberal Democratic Party on the reform legislation, but many members of the LDP oppose the reform bills, making a compromise unlikely. Middle East talks

PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat met with Saudi Arabian King Fahd yesterday in a quest for financial support for Palestinian self-rule and forgiveness for Mr. Arafat's support of Saddam Hussein during the Gulf war. Meanwhile, Israel and the PLO resumed talks in Egypt yesterday, but concentrated on the easier aspects of local government, including coordination of water, electricity, transport, and archaeology. Israel also resumed talks in Washington yesterday with Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan as part of a wider peace process suspended since the PLO self-rule deal was announced in September.

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