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CONSUMER PRICES UP 2.7 PERCENT IN 1994 Consumer prices rose 2.7 percent in 1994, the fourth straight year of low inflation, as modest increases practically across the board helped restrain the cost of living. The Labor Department also said yesterday that last year ended on a positive note, with the Consumer Price Index up 0.2 percent in December. The CPI report comes a day after the government reported that wholesale prices remained in check in 1994 for the fourth straight year. Analysts said inflation could accelerate this year if the economy keeps booming and low unemployment creates mounting wage pressures. They said the Federal Reserve, which raised interest rates six times in 1994, is almost certain to boost them again at the end of January. US troops to Somalia

The United States is sending 2,600 Marines - backed by aerial gunships and attack jets - to evacuate the remnants of a United Nations force that tried to bring peace to Somalia. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said the Marines are unlikely to stay in Somalia more than a week. Pentagon spokesman Dennis Boxx said Tuesday that four amphibious warships with the 2,600 marines on board are scheduled to arrive off the coast of Somalia ``around the first week of February.''

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New York smoking ban

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani signed legislation Tuesday that cracks down on lighting up in virtually all public places, including outdoor sports stadiums and most restaurants. The new law, effective April 10, bans smoking in dining areas of all restaurants seating more than 35 people.

Tension in Chiapas

Some 300 peasants stormed the town hall of the remote Chiapas village of Chicomuselo, setting off violence that left a police chief, his deputy, and five others dead, police said. The confrontation was the most violent of several demonstrations staged by mainly Indian protesters on Tuesday to demand that Mexico's government recognize Amado Avendano Figueroa, a failed opposition candidate for Chiapas governor.

Rubin confirmed

Robert Rubin, who amassed a fortune on Wall Street before coordinating economic strategy for the White House, is the nation's 68th treasury secretary. The Senate approved his nomination on a 99 to 0 vote, and he was sworn in Tuesday night.

Lugar ponders run

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Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana said yesterday that he is keeping an open mind about running for president in 1996. ``I've never indicated that I would not run,'' he told reporters over breakfast. But a fellow Indianan, former Vice President Dan Quayle, does plan to make a serious run for the White House. ``That would not necessarily be a prohibition,'' Mr. Lugar said. Lugar is chairman of the Agriculture Committee and second ranking GOP member on the Foreign Relations Committee. He was reelected to a fourth term in November.

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