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The US

Three aides to Teamsters Union president Ron Carey were preparing to enter guilty pleas and offer their cooperation with a federal grand jury probe of illegal union fund-raising, sources close to the investigation said. They said the trio's appearance before a federal magistrate in New York suggested that the probe of the union's relationship with the Democratic Party would be expanded.

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A safety standdown will be imposed "sometime in the next week," Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall told ABC's "Good Morning America." Her remarks followed by one day Defense Secretary William Cohen's order for a brief halt in training flights after five military air accidents in less than a week. Eleven Americans died in the accidents, three of which involved Air Force planes.

Federal investigators have all but ruled out the possibility that TWA Flight 800 was downed by a guided missile, The Washington Post reported. It said the FBI and National Transportation Safety Board found no evidence that a missile exploded near the Paris-bound jet July 17, 1996, sending fragments into its center fuel tank and causing a second blast that killed all 230 people aboard. The Post based its report on letters from the two agencies to members of Congress.

The worst US trade deficit in six months was reported by the Commerce Department as exports dipped while imports in July set a record. The department put the deficit at 24.7 percent, or $10.34 billion. Analysts said the import record was largely because of foreign cars and car parts. Economists had forecast a deficit of $9.4 billion.

Reporters were admitted to a Democratic Party fund-raiser in New York that featured Vice President Gore Wednesday night, but were denied access to a similar Republican function in the city attended by House Speaker Newt Gingrich and other GOP leaders.

No runoff will be necessary after all in the primary election to choose New York's Democratic Party candidate for mayor, officials said. A count of absentee ballots pushed Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger over the 40 percent level needed to win without a runoff against the Rev. Al Sharpton, the black activist who finished second.

Federal funds are supporting research on pregnant women with AIDS that is ethically questionable, the New England Journal of Medicine said. In an editorial, it compared studies of such women in developing countries to 40 years of observing the effects of venereal disease on poor, black American men who were offered no treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health defended the AIDS studies as "not only appropriate, but essential."

The failure of team owners to agree on a plan for realignment of baseball's major leagues was expected to prevent a vote on the issue as their quarterly meeting ended in Atlanta. Acting commissioner Bud Selig said he would likely allow still more time for debate on the controversial subject, pushing a vote to an unspecified future date. The issue already has prevented release of next year's schedule of games. That schedule usually is made public in July.

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Whirlpool Corp., the world's leading maker of home appliances, said it will cut more than 10 percent of its work force. The Benton Harbor, Mich., company said the layoffs were part of a strategy to save $180 million a year by 2000. It employs 46,000 workers in 13 countries.

Accounting-industry giants Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand announced plans to merge by early next year. The move needs regulatory approval but would make them the world's largest accounting company, with more than $13 billion in annual fees and 135,000 employees.

Fellow entertainment-industry giants paid tributes to Red Skelton, who died in Rancho Mirage, Calif., calling him a "brilliant comedian," "a great clown," and "a gem." Skelton's TV career alone spanned more than two decades. He also appeared in films and on stage, wrote and recorded songs, and earned millions of dollars from his paintings and lithographs.

The Wold

Gunmen fired on tourists outside a museum in Cairo, killing nine and wounding 19 others. Three men were arrested for the attack, an Interior Ministry statement said. The attack, the worst in more than a year, came during a five-year campaign by Muslim militants to overthrow the Egyptian government and install Islamic rule. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called the attack an act of "barbarism."

Israel reached a deal with the Jewish families who had moved into two houses in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem, the public security ministry said. The plan would have the families move out Sunday while Jewish seminary students move in, Israel Radio reported. Palestinians said any deal that left the site under Jewish control was unacceptable. The settlers defied a US call to temporarily halt expansion when they moved into the two homes, owned by Miami-based Jewish millionaire Irving Moskowitz.

Hizbullah guerrillas fired antitank rounds at the Israeli-occupied zone in south Lebanon, killing one officer and injuring two other men. More than 16 Israelis have been killed in the area this month. Five Lebanese civilians were hurt in a counterattack.

Welsh voters headed for polls to decide whether to set up their first assembly in 600 years. Unlike in Scotland, which emphatically said yes to a similar measure Sept. 11, an assembly in Cardiff would have no power to make laws or raise taxes. The outcome of the vote was unsure: Wales has had close ties with England for 400 years.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin received a ringing endorsement from delegates at the closing session of the 15th Communist Party Congress. The congress unanimously voted for his plans to sell off many state-owned industries and sidelined Zemin's main rivals.

The Taliban militia captured the key northern Afghan town of Hayratan and renewed their attack on Mazar-e-Sharif, headquarters of the alliance battling the religious militia. The fall of the city would give the Taliban control of most of the country.

Land-mine victims welcomed efforts to ban the devices at an international conference in Oslo. Text for an international treaty banning antipersonnel mines was adopted by the conference a day after the US refused to sign the ban. That refusal raised doubts about the treaty's effectiveness. Japan and Australia were among other countries that expressed concerns. Land mines kill or maim about 26,000 people each year. Approximately 80 percent of those hurt are civilians.

Breaking with its opposition allies, Kenya's Democratic Party said it would participate in national elections due by February. A package of constitutional reforms passed last week has divided the opposition, which boycotted the last elections in 1992.

The US attempted to get Korean peace talks started again one day after an unprecendented agreement to send experts to North Korea to assess the famine-stricken country's food needs. Hit by drought and tidal waves, the Communist country needs 1.9 million tons of grain, the UN said.

Taiwan vowed to press on after its bid to join the UN was shut down by China for the fifth year in a row. China considers the island a renegade province.

A planned referendum could resolve the 23-year-old struggle in Western Sahara, Polisario leader Mohammed Abdelaziz said. His group and Morocco, which claims the territory for which the Polisario seek independence, agreed to a code of conduct for a referendum to decide the future of the area.

"[Despite] a number of recent military accidents, this is one of our best safety years."

- Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall, defending that service's flight-safety record on ABC's "Good Morning America."


Pushing its way up the charts in Hungary is a new CD with a populist - if not exactly pop - theme. "The Best of Communism" contains 24 tracks of workers-movement marches and songs, plus a speech attacking capitalism by Lenin himself. The new release already has sold more than 20,000 copies. And, like communism itself in its heyday, stopping its spread may be difficult. There are plans to market the album via the Internet.

In typical Yankee fashion, a Newport, Maine, florist found a novel way to grow her business after moving into an old bank building. The place had a driveup window, so Carol Charters reopened it - with a few modifications. Customers now can buy bouquets without leaving their cars. She says the arrangement seems to be working well.

A New Haven, Conn., freight-company supervisor lost his job because he was too good at seeing that the goods were delivered - to his own house. A 20-page inventory of new merchandise found there includes, among other things, recliners, perfume, a floor-polishing machine, and 11 boxes of cedar planks. Estimated value: $20,000. Police say the next dock he sees may be the one down at the courthouse.

The Day's List

New Jersey Spent Most On Educating Children

According to data just released by the US Bureau of the Census, the Garden State ranked highest in local spending per pupil on elementary and secondary education in 1994 - the latest year for which figures were avaliable. New Jersey spent $8,902 - or $3,639 more than the national average. Utah spent the least: $3,280. The top 10 states and their expenditues:

1. New Jersey $8,902

2. New York 8,162

3. Alaska 7,890

4. Connecticut 7,629

5. Pennsylvania 6,579

6. Rhode Island 6,554

7. Massachusetts 6,413

8. Michigan 6,391

9. Vermont 6,269

10. Delaware 6,208

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