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A money-laundering scheme allegedly involving the Russian government and organized crime will be investigated by the House, Rep. Jim Leach announced. The chairman of the Banking Committee said hearings would be held next month on alleged illegal activities at the Bank of New York, which are being probed by federal authorities. Russia's finance minister denied a USA Today report that his government was linked to the alleged multibillion-dollar scheme. Authorities are reportedly probing, among others, the activities of Konstantin Kagalovsky, vice president of the Russian oil giant, Yukos.

Security lapses at Miami International Airport and American Airlines enabled dozens of the carrier's employees and contract workers to smuggle weapons and drugs into the US, investigators said. At least 48 people were arrested on charges of conspiracy, smuggling, and weapons offenses. Prosecutors said they hid drugs in "food cars," garbage bags, and carry-on luggage - and gained easy access to secure areas by flashing employee badges.

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In a national poll of teenagers, 44 percent cited "pressure to get good grades" as their chief concern. Getting into college was the response from 32 percent of the 1,015 respondents in the survey released by the Education Department. Seventy-seven percent gave their high schools an A or B for "being a safe place, without violence." However, among teens in minority groups there were different concerns; for instance, only 58 percent of blacks gave their schools an A or B for safety.

Presidential candidate John McCain has thrown his support behind a California ballot initiative for campaign-finance reform, The Washington Post reported. Sponsors hope to qualify the measure for the state's March 2000 ballot. It would ban individual contributions above $5,000 to statewide candidates - above $3,000 to others - and limit fund-raising to prescribed periods. McCain, an Arizona Republican, endorsed the proposal even though state GOP leaders had criticized it.

A lawsuit was filed in Cincinnati to block a school system from observing Jewish holidays as days off. The American Civil Liberties Union accused the suburban Sycamore Community School District of favoring the Jewish religion over others by giving students a day off on Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, which falls on Sept. 20 this year. Citing First Amendment prohibitions on establishing one religion above others, the suit asks the court to block any religious holidays from being observed as special days off.

The Navy was blasted in a congressional audit that said some $580 million in delivered goods had been charged to the wrong customers. For instance, the General Accounting Office said, the Navy billed Greece and Japan for services it provided to Canada - and lost track of a $54 million payment by Kuwait for three fighter jets.

An antigang plan allowing police to impound the car of anyone under 17 caught out after curfew was approved by the Town Board in Cicero, Ill. The curfew runs weekdays from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.; 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekends.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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