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JUSTICE BLACKMUN ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun, author of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion 21 years ago, announced his retirement yesterday. ``I shall miss the court, its work, and its relationships,'' Justice Blackmun said. ``But I leave it in good hands.'' Blackmun said in a statement that ``I advised both the president and the chief justice ... that this would be my last term in active service on the court. I am now writing the president formally that I shall assume retirement status'' when the court ends its term in June. President Clinton saluted Blackmun as a judge of ``majesty and reason, with scholarship and grace'' who defied all political labels. Hosokawa won't resign

Japan's embattled Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa denied yesterday he had even uttered in jest the words ``I quit,'' but it failed to quash speculation that his days as leader were numbered. Mr. Hosokawa's inability to shake off allegations of shady financial deal-making in the 1980s has damaged his reputation as an anticorruption warrior, paralyzed parliament, and prompted the opposition to call for his resignation. Congressmen retire

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Rep. Jamie Whitten (D) of Mississippi, the longest serving member of the US Congress, announced his retirement Tuesday, giving up a post he has held since just before the US entered World War II. Also Tuesday, Rep. Jim Bacchus (D) of Florida, announced he would not seek a third term, saying his congressional duties were taking too heavy a toll on his personal life. Merger jeopardized

AT&T is going to have to satisfy a federal judge that its proposed $12.6 billion purchase of McCaw Cellular Communications would not violate an antitrust ruling that broke up the Bell System. US District Judge Harold Greene, who wrote and oversees the consent decree, ruled Tuesday that the deal would violate his order, but he left open the door for the two companies to seek a waiver. The announcement came a day after Southwestern Bell and Cox Enterprises called off their $5 billion telephone-cable merger, citing new FCC regulations as too restrictive. Wall Street rebounds

Wall Street rebounded with its biggest one-day gain in more than two years, but investors can only guess at where the market will go next. The Dow Jones average surged 82.06 points Tuesday to 3,675.41. The rally came after a slide in the past few days that pushed the stock market to its lowest level in six months. Yesterday stocks opened slightly higher in early trading. N. Ireland cease-fire

The IRA began a three-day cease-fire yesterday aimed at pressuring the British government into meeting its political ally, Sinn Fein, for talks on the future of Northern Ireland. Britain and Ireland have held to their position, declared on Dec. 15, that the Sinn Fein party would be offered a place in such talks only if the Irish Republican Army gave up violence for good. The temporary but unilateral cease-fire is the IRA and Sinn Fein's boldest response so far. Israel car bombing

A car bomb exploded next to a bus picking up passengers in northern Israel yesterday, killing at least eight people and wounding 30, police said. A caller in Arabic to Israel radio said the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attack in the Israeli city of Afula. The Islamic fundamentalist group had issued leaflets threatening to attack Israeli targets after a Jewish settler killed 30 worshipers in a Hebron mosque Feb. 25.

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