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The US

Peace talks between North and South Korea likely will begin Aug. 5 in New York, the parties announced - with the US and China attending as patrons. The two sides aim to broker a formal end to the Korean War. The breakthrough came after North Korea dropped its demand for food aid for its starving people as a precondition to the talks. The US and South Korea said the issue could be included in the negotiations.

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Microsoft chairman Bill Gates may buy CBS, The New York Post reported. But an executive of Westinghouse, which owns CBS, denied the network is for sale. CBS is worth an estimated $14 billion. Microsoft, which is said to be worth $153 billion, has a reported $9 billion in cash on hand. Microsoft already is paired with NBC, but buying CBS would end that arrangement. Canadian distiller Seagram & Son is also reportedly eyeing CBS.

Heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson awaited a ruling from regulators, who met to decide whether he should be suspended for life after biting the ears of champion Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas. He also could forfeit up to $3 million of his $30 million purse. The ruling was expected next week. Tyson apologized for his actions and asked for forgiveness. Meanwhile, pay-per-view fans filed suit to get refunds on the $50 they paid to see the fight.

Fewer households are made up of married couples, the Census Bureau reported. It said last year, 53.7 percent of the nation's 99.6 million households were made up of married couples. In 1990, the number was 56 percent. In 1970 it was 70.5 percent. Also, as more young people stay single to finish school and start careers, the number of Americans living alone grows: Last year 24.9 percent of households had one person. In 1970 it was 6.8 percent.

A new airline-safety report card gave As to all but one major US airline - ValuJet. The grades came from dividing each airline's fatalities by its total number of flights. Of 62 European carriers, 57 got top marks. Ratings dipped in Africa, Asia, eastern Europe, and Russia. The ratings were issued by the Air Travelers Association.

Closeup shots of the asteroid Mathilde suggested it's a leftover crumb from the vast cloud of space rocks that orbited the sun billions of years ago and came together to form the planets. Photos from a NASA-orchestrated satellite flyby show the rock reflects just 3 percent of the light that strikes it, making it twice as dark as charcoal.

The Postal Service said it wants to cut postage rates by two cents - to 30 cents - for bill payments and other letters that can be handled by machines. But it also wants to raise the price of a first-class stamp one cent to 33 cents. Each penny increase means more than $1 billion in revenue. The rate-increase process can take up to a year.

A merger between aerospace giants Boeing and McDonnell Douglas wouldn't significantly decrease industry competition, the Federal Trade Commission said. The agency said it won't block the proposed deal.

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Office-supply giants Staples and Office Depot said they would call off a merger plan after a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction saying the deal could limit competition.

General Motors said two strikes this year cost it $490 million and lost production of 96,000 cars and trucks. A strike in Oklahoma City ended May 27 after 52 days. But a Pontiac, Mich., strike continues.

The Army may compel a woman to testify in a sexual misconduct case. Like two other women, Sgt. Maj. Brenda Hoster (ret.) accused Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene McKinney of harassment. But now she won't testify against him at a hearing to determine if he should be court-martialed. So the Army may order her out of retirement and on to the stand. The other accusers have complained of harassment since making their allegations.

Two Lithuanians face charges of trying to sell nuclear weapons. They were caught by US agents in Miami and London posing as drug cartel members. They were offering Bulgarian-made tactical nuclear arms.

The World

"We want democracy - now!" thousands of marchers chanted in Hong Kong, in the first open challenge to Chinese rule since the territory reverted to Beijing's control. Their rally was not stopped by police. Meanwhile, 4,000 People's Liberation Army troops moved into Hong Kong amid pledges that they would provide only external defense and would not travel the streets in armored vehicles.

Palestinian police largely stood by in Hebron as the city was rocked by some of the most violent clashes in recent weeks between rioters and Israeli troops. Two soldiers were hurt when a rioter dropped a pipe bomb on them from a rooftop. At least 15 Palestinians also were injured. Meanwhile, in a Paris newspaper interview, Palestinian Authority President Arafat called on European countries to help break the deadlock in Middle East peace talks because the US "is not doing anything."

Amid efforts to avoid a violent confrontation this weekend, new Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern made his first official visit to Northern Ireland. He told a trade union meeting, "We will be working hard" for peace. But tensions in the province were building as Catholics vowed nonstop demonstrations beginning to-night to block an annual Protestant march scheduled for Sunday in Portadown. Last year's parade triggered riots by both sides of the sectarian divide.

The countdown began in Britain toward the deadline for surrendering handguns to police. Under a new law, owners have until Sept. 30 to turn in all pistols larger than .22 caliber, or face prison terms of up to 10 years. Records show 160,000 such guns are licensed in Britain. The new Labour government has introduced legislation that also would ban .22-caliber pistols, most of which are used for target shooting at gun clubs.

A confidence vote in Turkey's new secular coalition government was scheduled for July 12 in parliament. Analysts said it appeared Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz would have enough support to win. But his Muslim predecessor, Necmettin Erbakan, predicted defeat, opening the way for his own return to power. Erbakan resigned last month under military pressure in hopes of preserving a trend toward Islamic fundamentalism.

Mexico's biggest volcanic eruption in 70 years sent a blanket of ash over Mexico City, forcing pedestrians indoors, causing motorists to stop often and wipe their windshields, and closing the international airport. Winds blew the ash from Mt. Popocatpetl as far as Veracruz, 180 miles east. Flights were diverted to Acapulco on the Pacific coast.

No leniency will be granted to eight Vietnamese ex-border guards or police officers sentenced to death last month for heroin trafficking, the country's Supreme Appeals Court ruled. Life sentences for six other convicts also were upheld. Another 40 defendants in the case have yet to stand trial.

A program to seize white-owned farms in Zimbabwe and give them to landless peasants would be given new impetus under a bill that President Robert Mugabe said he would ask Parliament to approve. The government already has the power to take white- owned property, but fewer than 100 farms have been seized amid legal challenges.

Spanish police were claiming victory in the arrest of four suspected Basque separatists and the freeing of two kidnap victims. Attorney Cosme Delclaux's family had paid a reported $7 million for his release - the largest ransom yet collected by the Basque group ETA - with the promise of $3 million more afterward. The other hostage, a prison employee, had been held for 1-1/2 years - longer than any previous ETA kidnap victim. They were found hours apart in separate towns near Bilbao, the Basque capital.


"Imagine trying to videotape a billboard ... at 55 miles per hour. Now, imagine trying to do it as you go by at 22,000 miles an hour; that's faster than a bullet."

- Scientist Don Yeomans, on the logistics involved in getting the NEAR satellite to photograph the asteroid Mathilde.

A worker at an Israeli government printing plant was arrested on suspicion of stealing an examination that students across the country soon would have to take. He allegedly gave it to his daughter, who shared it with her boyfriend, who did the same with his pals, who - well, you get the idea. The test? It was the annual Bible exam.

Next time you see TV foot-age of some big old building imploding as strategically placed charges go off, think of Philadelphia's Jack Frost sugar refinery. A demolition company tried twice to blow it up. Not one brick moved. The crew then hooked it to a bulldozer, using cables. They snapped. Thirteen hours later it fell on its own.

On June 8, the Cincinnati Reds gave away fishing rods as a promotion for fans at a game with the New York Mets. But rain forced postponement before they could all be distributed. So last Sunday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals was chosen to hand out the leftovers, and guess what? Yup, it rain-ed again, delaying the contest by almost three hours.

The Day's List

Turnstiles Keep Spinning At Big League Stadiums

Next Tuesday, Major League Baseball takes its traditional midseason break for the All Star Game, in Cleveland. Despite lingering concerns over baseball's dwindling popularity, average attendance at major league games has risen each week over the comparable figure for the 1996 season. For the season to date, 1997 attendance is 4.3 percent higher than a year ago. The average weekly chart:

1997 1996 Change

1 29,711 26,981 10.1%

2 27,61 26,933 2.5%

3 25,805 25,439 1.5%

4 25,962 24,969 4.0%

5 25,971 25,035 3.7%

6 25,874 25,000 3.5%

7 25,492 24,460 4.2%

8 25,748 24,746 4.1%

9 25,908 24,780 4.6%

10 25,907 24,955 3.8%

11 26,351 25,195 4.6%

12 26,798 25,444 5.3%

13 27,018 25,796 4.7%

- Associated Press

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