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NORTH YEMEN DECLARES CEASE-FIRE The north declared a unilateral cease-fire yesterday, its second this week, aimed at encouraging negotiations to end Yemen's five-week-old civil war. President Ali Abdullah Saleh confirmed the cease-fire and said it was called in compliance with last week's UN Security Council resolution appealing for a cessation of hostilities. The cease-fire was called as UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, an Algerian diplomat who brokered the end of Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, visited Yemen to open a dialogue with northern and southern leaders. North Yemen on Monday had ordered a cease-fire, but the truce was broken within hours with each side accusing the other of shooting first. War erupted in Yemen on May 4 over political differences between President Saleh and his former vice president, Ali Salem al-Beidh, leader of the breakaway south. Stowaways in Boston

Eleven Romanian stowaways found aboard a freighter are the third group from the Eastern European nation caught trying to enter the United States on the same shipping line in two months. Inquiry into Espy gifts

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The US Justice Department is investigating whether Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy took free travel, lodging, and tickets to sporting events from Tyson Foods Inc., a poultry company with close ties to President Clinton. Espy spokesman Steve Kinsella confirmed late Wednesday that an investigation was under way. Valdez skipper off hook

Former skipper Joseph Hazelwood has been dropped as a defendant in a state court lawsuit over the Exxon Valdez oil spill, because the plaintiffs decided they couldn't get much money from him. He remains a defendant, along with Exxon, in a multibillion-dollar federal lawsuit that went to a jury in Anchorage on Monday. A date for the state trial has not been set. Colombia rescue effort

At least 250 people died, 71 others were missing, and hundreds more lost their homes after an earthquake and mudslide disaster devastated a remote, mainly Indian mountain valley. As rescuers in helicopters and on foot continued their search for survivors in the Paez Valley 180 miles southwest of Bogota in howling winds and rain, officials said the tragedy was worse than they first thought. Radio reports spoke of possibly as many as 1,000 people missing. Meanwhile, a temblor of 7.8 magnitude, which was felt in Canada, shook the earth 400 miles below a sparsely populated area of Bolivia.

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