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The US

Two more bank mergers were announced, signaling further consolidation in the industry. NationsBank Corp. and Bank-America Corp. said they were joining forces in a deal valued at about $60 billion that would offer coast-to-coast service. And Banc One Corp. said it was combining with First Chicago NBD Corp. to create the dominant bank in the Midwest, a deal valued at about $30 billion. The two mergers came after last week's proposed union of banking giant Citicorp and brokerage and insurer Travelers Group.

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World money managers assemble in Washington today to consider ways to protect global economic order. The finance ministers, central bankers, and business people from 180 nations are attending the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Finance ministers will focus on what caused the economic crisis in Asia last summer - and also review an 18-month-old effort to provide debt relief to the world's poorest nations.

Levels of violence and drug availability in schools rose slightly between 1989 and 1995, a study by the Justice and Education departments indicated. In 1995, 14.6 percent of students aged 12 to 19 reported violence against people or property at school, compared to 14.5 percent in 1989, the report said. But it noted that 4.2 percent of students in that age group had experienced a violent crime in 1995, up from 3.4 percent six years earlier. In addition, the percentage of students reporting street gangs in their schools nearly doubled.

White House officials said President Clinton was likely to visit Ireland to help generate support for the peace accord announced late last week by US mediator George Mitchell. Voters in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic must ratify the proposal in a referendum May 22nd. Mitchell, who was scheduled to brief Clinton on the peace agreement, said he hoped the president would make the trip. Clinton is already scheduled to be in England for an economic summit in mid-May.

The president will visit Bangladesh later this year, UN envoy Bill Richardson said. Richardson, in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, on an Asian tour, said Clinton wants to travel to Bangladesh because the country has made "tremendous progress" in strengthening democracy and its economy.

The makeup of a presidential forum today in Houston on race and sports ruffled sensitivities of local Hispanics. The Houston chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens criticized the list of participants for the event for including only "token" Hispanic membership. Felipe Lopez, a basketball player at St. John's University in New York, is the only Hispanic on the 11-member panel, which includes Clinton and nine athletic figures - six blacks and three whites.

Foreign investors are sidestepping requirements of a US permanent-residency program, The New York Times reported. It said wealthy foreign investors, with the help of consultant firms, have improperly exploited loopholes in a program established by Congress in 1990 that gives them residency in exchange for direct investment in US businesses that creates or saves jobs. The program allows foreigners who invest at least $500,000 to receive a permanent-residency visa, or green card.

Otis Elevator said it was closing 13 of 19 worldwide engineering centers and cutting 2,000 jobs as part of a restructuring plan. The world's largest elevator manufacturer said it would also reduce the number of its factories, due in part to slower demand caused by the Asian economic crisis. The company, a unit of Hartford, Conn.-based United Technologies Corp., said it had already eliminated about 1,000 of the 2,000 jobs in the last two quarters, with 90 jobs slashed at its only US factory, in Indiana.

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The World

Northern Ireland's annual Protestant "marching season" got off to a peaceful start in the wake of last week's historic agreement on the future of the province. The Apprentice Boys group chose not to parade through a hostile Catholic neighborhood of Belfast or to confront police who were barring their path, as it has in previous years. But leaders of the group vowed to return for a march through the Lower Ormeau area at least once this summer.

Saying, "I have no other candidate," Russian President Yeltsin stepped up pressure on his opponents in parliament to confirm Prime Minister-designate Sergei Kiriyenko. The latter's nomination was rejected by the Communist-dominated lower house last Friday on grounds that he is too inexperienced, but Yeltsin promptly resubmitted it. A second vote is scheduled for Friday. Yeltsin is due to meet today with Communist House Speaker Gennady Seleznyov amid hints that he might compromise by appointing some of the latter's choices as Cabinet ministers.

Japan is expected to tell Western finance officials tomorrow it already has done all it can to help prop up struggling Asian economies. At a meeting of the Group of Seven finance ministers in Washington, senior Japanese officials said they'd argue that boosting the value of the yen - as the Bank of Japan did last week - will help to strengthen other Asian currencies against the US dollar. Western governments want Japan to serve as the engine of economic growth in Asia.

A potentially explosive confrontation in Iran's capital was averted when students called off a protest march in support of jailed Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi. The protest had not been banned, but its cancellation was urged by Karbaschi's ally, the relatively moderate President Mohamad Khatami, to "safeguard tranquility." Karbaschi awaits trial on graft charges that moderates say were orchestrated by political hardliners attempting to even the score for his backing of Khatami in last year's election.

Rival negotiators for North and South Korea planned to try again today to resolve differences holding up a key agreement. Their talks in Beijing, the first high-level direct meeting in four years, have stalled over the South's insistence that famine aid be linked to allowing reunions for families divided by the peninsula's 1950-53 war. Analysts said aid is a hard sell in South Korea because the North rarely shows gratitude and because the South currently is mired in a deep financial crisis.

Three US nationals were among a dozen foreign activists expelled from Mexico for what officials said was their work in forming a local council sympathetic to Zapatista rebels. The council was operating in Tani-perlas in the southern state of Chiapas, where peace negotiations between the government and the Zapatistas have made limited progress since 1994. The Army erected a new camp at Taniperlas, apparently to prevent future attempts at setting up a similar council.

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon was among thousands of properties affected by "the worst floods for 150 years" in England, government officials said. At least four people died and thousands of others had to be pulled to safety by boats and helicopters. Still more damage was expected at Peterborough in Cambridgeshire as the River Nene neared overflow level.

Air pollution in Brunei from uncontrolled forest and brush fires in neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia has reached critical levels, causing US and other embassy staffs to apply for permission to leave, reports said. Brunei's pollutant-standard index registered 500 Sunday; a reading above 400 is considered "very hazardous" to health. In nearby Singapore visibility was down to one mile.


"I don't think this signals the end of the whole consolidation of the banking industry."

- Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp., on the announcement of two major bank mergers in the wake of last week's proposed Citicorp-Travelers Group union.

You know those annual lists of Christmas toys that evaluators recommend against buying because they're violent? Now there's a variation on the theme for Easter. A New Jersey discount-store chain asked a Chinese supplier for bunny figurines in poses that suggest gardening. They were selling well, too, until a customer complained that some of them appear to be holding handguns. Probably, they're meant to be pistol-grip hose nozzles, but the stores are offering refunds to anyone whose sensibilities were offended.

Looking for a place to get away from it all? Do you like the sound of a lush, tropical island with swaying palms, miles of unspoiled shoreline, and absolutely no possibility of being disturbed? Then Palmyra Atoll may be just for you, and it's available for immediate purchase. What's the catch? Only that it's 1,000 miles south of Hawaii, has no facilities other than a tiny airstrip, and gets more than 13 feet of rainfall a year. Oh, there's the asking price, too: $47 million - and the fact that you may be bidding against Micro-soft chairman Bill Gates.

The Days' List

States Getting the Most Federal Funds Per Capita

The US government distributed $1.4 trillion in domestic grants, benefits, subsidies, salaries, and goods and services purchased during fiscal year 1997, the Bureau of the Census reports. The 15 states receiving the most on a per-capita basis for that period and the amount for each:

1. Virginia $7,857

2. Alaska 7,719

3. Maryland 7,683

4. New Mexico 7,191

5. Hawaii 6,964

6. North Dakota 6,757

7. Massachusetts 6,110

8. Rhode Island 5,956

9. Missouri 5,868

10. Montana 5,839

11. Maine 5,784

12. West Virginia 5,732

13. Alabama 5,687

14. South Dakota 5,622

15. Florida 5,600

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