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The pentagon said it was sending 24 Apache attack helicopters, 18 multiple rocket launchers, and 2,000 troops to Albania for use against Serb troops and tanks in Kosovo. Defense Secretary William Cohen said the deployments were not a prelude to introducing US ground troops there. Meanwhile, officials clarified the US commitment to take in some of the ethnic Albanians fleeing Serb assaults. They said the US would provide temporary shelter for up to 20,000 refugees - but just until they can return home under NATO-led protection.

Several prominent senators urged President Clinton to make the use of US ground troops an option in Kosovo. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana, Charles Robb (D) of Virginia, and Joseph Biden (D) of Delaware urged Clinton to keep open the possibility of deploying US ground forces against Serb units in the province. Ruling out the use of ground troops only emboldens Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to press his attack against ethnic Albanians, critics of US policy say.

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Some US aircraft monitoring skies over northern Iraq have been diverted to possible use in Yugoslavia, according to a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Air Force planes conducted the last attack over the no-fly zone in northern Iraq March 16. In the 10 days prior to that, allied planes had attacked in the northern zone almost every day. Meanwhile, the Pentagon said two US and one British aircraft attacked sites in the southern no-fly zone, responding to violations of the airspace by Iraqi aircraft. None of the allied planes was damaged, US officials said.

Police may search the personal belongings of all passengers inside a stopped car when lawfully seeking criminal evidence against the driver, the Supreme Court ruled. The 6-to-3 vote, in a Wyoming case, expanded the already-considerable police power to search motor vehicles without a court warrant.

Steelworkers went on strike at Newport News Shipbuilding Co. as a union contract expired. Members of the United Steelworkers of America local had voted overwhelmingly for a walkout at a series of meetings late last week. The union said an offer from the shipyard, which employs 9,000 workers in Newport News, Va., did not restore wage cuts and benefits that workers had agreed to give up in leaner times.

A study of pink salmon suggested oil is 100 times more toxic to young fish than had been thought - and that dangerous oil pollutants linger years longer than previously believed. National Marine Fisheries Service scientists began the study in 1993 after biologists in Alaska could not explain why pink salmon spawned in streams oiled by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill were still showing negative effects. Results of the new study contradict previous assumptions that the light elements of oil, which quickly evaporate, are the most toxic, a National Marine Fisheries scientist said.

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