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CLINTON CLARIFIES WORDS ON HEALTH CARE The White House has mounted a major damage-control effort, insisting that President Clinton was not abandoning universal health-care coverage for 95 percent coverage when he spoke on Tuesday to the National Governors' Association in Boston. Aides said his threat to veto a bill without universal coverage still stands. But the renewed threat appeared partly a matter of semantics. The administration seemed to be laying the groundwork for a compromise under which the goal of insurance for everyone would be stated explicitly even if the mechanics of the plan produced something less. Euro-Parliament leader

The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, yesterday elected Luxembourg Prime Minister Jacques Santer to a five-year term as president of the European Commission. The parliament's vote clears the way for the formation of a commission led by Mr. Santer to take over from France's Jacques Delors in January. Uganda appeals for food aid

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Uganda appealed yesterday for $65 million to buy food for an estimated 1.8 million people hit by famine in the north and northeast. Clergymen and local authorities say more than 300 people have died since famine hit in February after a prolonged drought slashed food harvests. Independent sources say the death toll could be much higher. Toll of Indian floods

More than 580 people have died in floods and landslides after three weeks of rain in northern and western India, Press Trust of India reported yesterday. The worst-hit areas were the western coastal state of Gujarat and the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh. US jobless claims rise

The number of first-time applications for state unemployment benefits shot up by 27,000 last week to the highest level since Jan. 29, the Labor Department reported yesterday.

The number of initial claims totaled a seasonally adjusted 392,000, up from a revised 365,000 the previous week. The increase followed another rise of 21,000 the previous week, an indication that the job market might be showing some instability. Hurricane to miss Hawaii

The central Pacific's most powerful recorded hurricane may bring little more than high surf to Hawaii unless it changes course, the National Weather Service said yesterday.

Hurricane Emilia was expected to pass within 250 to 300 miles of the islands yesterday, although forecasters say it can change direction. `NYPD Blue' tops Emmy list

``NYPD Blue,'' a police drama, collared 26 nominations yesterday for the 46th annual Prime Time Emmy Awards. Other shows with many nominations include the movie ``And the Band Played On,'' the movie ``Gypsy,'' and the series ``Seinfeld,'' ``Frasier,'' and ``Picket Fences.''

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