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The House and Senate reconvene today with spending bills as the first order of business. Of 13 appropriations measures needed to keep the federal government running after Sept. 30, only two are ready to be sent to President Clinton.

The White House set a Friday deadline for 16 Puerto Rican prisoners to forswear violence and meet other conditions of a clemency offer made by President Clinton Aug. 11. The deadline was set after Hillary Rodham Clinton said the offer "should be withdrawn." The prisoners have been linked with violent guerrilla groups favoring Puerto Rican independence. Some Republicans have criticized the clemency offer, saying it's designed to help Mrs. Clinton win Puerto Rican votes in New York, where she's expected to run for the Senate next year. The White House has denied the accusation.

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A two-week-old panda cub at the San Diego Zoo is a girl, officials said. Her mother left the den long enough over the weekend for biologists to examine her for the first time. The cub is the first newborn giant panda in the Western Hemisphere in nearly a decade. She has not been named, but the zoo has submitted a request to China to name her Tian Yi, a gender-neutral term that means "Gift of Heaven." The name of the mother is Bai Yun, which means "White Cloud." The father, Shi Shi, is named for a town close to where he was captured. China owns both the cub and its parents, which are on loan to San Diego. The cub was born Aug. 21.

Teachers in Detroit were to vote today on an accord that could put students back in public schools by tomorrow. Some 182,000 students missed the first week of the school year after teachers refused to sign a contract extension. The new tentative pact would lower some elementary-class sizes while cracking down on absenteeism among teachers. Their union said raises would average at least 4 percent a year during the three-year contract.

Early estimates of damage from hurricane Dennis were set at more than $43 million in North Carolina alone. The storm dumped up to 20 inches of rain on coastal areas of the state. Meanwhile, the remnants of the storm continued to soak parts of Virginia, causing severe flooding in some areas.

Several hundred passengers were stranded overnight at Detroit's Metropolitan Airport, where a thunderstorm and flooding delayed flights. The storm poured 1.45 inches of rain on the airport Monday evening, soaking a Northwest Airlines concourse where a roof is being rebuilt.

Firefighters coping with a 63,486-acre wildfire 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles near Big Bear Lake and other popular mountain resorts were said to be close to gaining the upper hand. The blaze, which began Aug. 28, has already cost about $10 million to suppress. It has destroyed 19 structures and 52 vehicles. Authorities did not expect to have the fire under control until at least Friday.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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