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President Clinton underscored the education thrust of his State of the Union address by flying to Augusta State University in Georgia for a round table discussion on American schools. In his speech, Clinton called education his "No. 1 priority." He is expected to include a 20 percent increase in education spending in a budget he sends today to Congress. In the Republican respon-se to Clinton's address, Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma stuck to traditional GOP themes of returning power to local levels, family values, and balancing the budget.

A civil jury found O.J. Simpson liable for the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. It ordered Simpson to pay $8.5 million in compensatory damages. Hearings in the punitive-damages phase of the trial are scheduled to begin today. Simpson's attorneys are expected to appeal the jury's verdict.

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The president will visit Mexico April 11 and 12 and make a separate trip to Barbados, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Argentina in May, the White House announ-ced. An official said Clinton's trip to the Caribbean and South America was scheduled to take place May 6-13.

The State Department reacted to news of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's probable Jewish ancestry by expressing confidence that leaders in the Middle East and elsewhere would deal with her solely on the basis of her position. The Washington Post researched Albright's background and reported that her grandparents were Jewish and that three of them had died in the Holocaust. Albright said her parents had never given her an inkling of a Jewish heritage, had converted to Roman Catholicism, and had reared her in that religion.

A Senate committee approved the nomination of Rodney Slater as secretary of transportation on a voice vote. Slater, who has been federal highway administrator for the past four years, ran into no opposition on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

The House Judiciary Committee sent a term-limit constitutional amendment to the full House for a vote, despite opposition from committee chairman Henry Hyde (R) of Illinois. The amendment would limit lawmakers to 12 years of service in each branch of Congress, a total of 24 years in both houses.

The Army may reexamine whether it should continue training men and women together, the Army's chief of staff told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Gen. Dennis Reimer said the Army is investigating 1,074 allegations of sexual harassment. In a continuing probe of conduct at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, a third sergeant was charged with rape. Four others have been charged with lesser forms of sexual misconduct.

Morgan Stanley Group Inc. and Dean Witter, Discover & Co. said they had agreed to merge in a $9.9 billion deal that would create the world's largest securities firm.

New orders received by US factories dropped for a second consecutive month in December, the Commerce Department said. The 1.3 percent decline was said to be largely the result of weaker demand for electronic equipment. Orders for the year were up 4.9 percent, following a 6.6 percent increase in 1995.

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The Justice Department sued the city of Milwaukee for blocking the construction of a senior citizen facility. The suit says the city violated the US Fair Housing Act by refusing to grant the project a permit in order to discourage native Americans from living in Milwaukee.

A commission headed by Vice President Al Gore is considering whether commercial jetliners should have anti-missile defenses, the White House said. Press secretary Mike McCurry said the inquiry was prompted by speculation that a missile might have caused the destruction of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island, N.Y., last summer.

Pamela Harriman, the US ambassador to France, died in Paris. The daughter of a British baron, Harriman had become a confidant of Clinton and a respected diplomat.


A spokesman for the wife of Serbian President Milosevic warned student demonstrators to stop demanding concessions from the government. Otherwise, the warning said, "you must expect the state to defend itself." It came amid new marches in Belgrade one day after Milosevic finally accepted opposition victories in local elections held last November. The marchers deman-ded punishment for the police who beat earlier protesters.

Flags flew at half-staff and places of entertainment were closed across Israel in memory of 73 soldiers who died in the country's worst military air accident. There were no survivors of a collision between two helicopters over the Galilee Peninsula as they flew toward Israel's security zone in south Lebanon.

Leftist rebels and Peruvian government negotiators could begin talks on the release of 72 hostages from the Japanese Embassy compound by the end of the week, President Fujimori said. He said the guerrillas should "cut their losses" in the eight-week standoff.

President Mobutu of Zaire rejected an ultimatum by rebel chief Laurent Kabila to begin talks by Feb. 21 on the handover of power or face a major new offensive. Kabila's forces have captured much of eastern Zaire in less than four months of fighting. A Mobutu spokesman called the rebels "puppets" of neighboring Uganda and Rwanda.

Aid agencies in Rwanda were considering how to respond to the murders of five UN human rights monitors. The attack, from ambush, was blamed on Hutu insurgents opposed to the country's Tutsi-led government. It was the eighth such assault on foreigners in three weeks. Government officials said they were "disgusted" at the violence but did not want the UN to suspend monitoring operations.

Albanian police broke up street protests after the collap-se of another of the country's pyramid investment schemes. The protest by an estimated 14,000 angry investors who had lost their savings in the port city of Vlora was greeted by water cannon and bursts of gunfire into the air. In Tirana, the capital, go-vernment reimbursement for lost savings began but was limited to 60 percent of each investment.

Hard-line Socialist members of Bulgaria's parliament debated the ouster of Premier-designate Nikolai Dobrev. Dobrev angered his colleagues by stopping short of naming a new Cabinet and agreeing to hold early elections for parliament - a demand of the opposition. His move ended 30 days of street protests by Bulgarians angry at the nation's economic woes.

Three of Switzerland's largest banks announced the opening of a $71 million humanitarian fund for Holocaust victims. Credit Suisse, Swiss Bank, and Union Bank said they hoped it would help to resolve a dispute over Jewish assets deposited in Switzerland before and during World War II. Jewish groups cal-led for such a gesture last year.

Security forces sealed the border between the politically volatile Indian state of Punjab and arch-rival Pakistan. More than 100,000 police were deployed across Punjab as voters prepared to go to the polls for tomorrow's state elections. A decade-long rebellion by Sikh separatists - now considered largely over - cost 20,000 lives.

Deep new cracks have appeared in the ice shelf of Ant-arctica known as Larsen B, and scientists predicted it would collapse within two years. Argentine geologist Rudi del Valle said that global warming had likely contributed to the deterioration of the shelf, which reaches toward South America. A 500-square-mile section of Antarctic ice broke up in 1995, spawning thousands of icebergs..


Return of suspects by force may be effected without the cooperation of the host government."

- From a newly declassified presidential directive on terrorism, inadvertently made public by US security officials.

If you chew gum,or have a friend who does, it may interest you to learn that researchers now believe the habit dates back to the Stone Age. According to the journal Bri-tish Archaeology, human teeth marks were found in lumps of prehistoric birch bark tar discovered in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.

Most people can work up a disdain for the Internal Revenue Service at this time of year. And then there's Pamela Damon. The Crookston, Minn., resident has been paying her income taxes faithfully for years. But the one time she needed a prompt refund, the IRS rejected her return. Its database listed her as being dead since 1971. So there was no getting her $1,200 back until she proved she still exists. She'd earmarked the money to pay for car repairs.

In Christchurch, New Zealand, there's one business that literally will go to the ends of the earth to satisfy its customers. When some countrymen based at a research station on Antarctica phoned with a takeout order, Eagle Boys Dial-a-Pizza - rather than laughing it off - decided to fill it, as a goodwill gesture. The order was loaded aboard a cargo flight for the eight-hour trip, along with reheating instructions.

The Day's List

How Durable Should Your Home's Fixtures Be?

Life expectancy, in years, of properly installed and maintained products and materials in the home, as rated by the National Association of Home Builders:

Dishwasher - 10 yrs.

Microwave - 11

Garage door opener - 10

Copper wiring - 100

Drywall - 30 to 70

Wallpaper - 7

Carpet - 11

Wooden deck - 15

Swimming pool - 18

Brick or stone wall - 100

Concrete sidewalk - 24

Gravel walk - 4

Gutters - 30

Gas range - 19; electric - 17

Bathtub (cast-iron) - 50; fiberglass - 10 to 15

- Associated Press

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