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Hurricane Floyd finally made landfall near Wilmington, N.C., early yestersday and was ex-pected to move up the Eastern Seaboard, weakening gradually as it went. It produced the largest exodus from its predicted path - about 2.6 million people - in US history. A Category 2 storm by the time of its landfall, Floyd recorded winds of 110 m.p.h. at its center and caused widespread flooding, loss of power, and downed trees as it belted the Carolinas and Virginia. A handful of traffic-related deaths were blamed on the storm.

In Fort Worth, Texas, a neighborhood gunman went on a shooting rampage, killing seven people, wounding seven others, and finally taking his own life after entering a suburban church. Shouting antireligious curses, Larry Gene Ashbrook targeted a mainly teenage crowd of worshippers at the Wedgwood Baptist Church. Authorities said there was no indication he knew anyone at the church. Meanwhile, in Austin, the capital, the University of Texas reopened its landmark clock tower 25 years after a sniper used it as a vantage point to kill 16 people below.

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President Clinton invoked executive privilege to withhold selected documents from a House panel examining his controversial decision to grant clemency to members of a violent Puerto Rican nationalist group. The move was expected to further roil critics, who believe the clemency grant was used to boost his wife's presumed Senate ambitions.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, were scheduled to announce plans to award $1 billion in scholarships to minority college students over the next 20 years. The gift, the largest yet by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is aimed at paying the expenses of at least 1,000 students annually while they study math, science, engineering, and education all the way through their postgraduate years.

In a welcome decision to lawyers representing survivors of the Branch Davidian tragedy, a judge in Waco, Texas, delayed the wrongful death trial against the federal government that was to begin Oct. 18. The delay will allow the plaintiffs more time to examine the evidence, all of which US District Judge Walter Smith ordered released by Oct. 1. In dispute is the FBI's role in the conflagaration that engulfed the group's compound and resulted in almost 80 deaths.

Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr called his attention to the Monica Lewinsky affair a "serious mistake." During a public forum in Los Angeles. he said he believed another independent counsel should have looked into Clinton's relationship with the ex-White House intern, leaving him to concentrate on a Whitewater investigation that has yet to end conclusively.

Two days before his scheduled arraignment in Houston, a fugitive antidrug prosecutor from Mexico was found dead at his New Jersey home. Police said they were treating the case of Mario Ruiz Massieu as a suicide. Once a leading figure in combating Mexico's drug trade, he fled the country in 1995 after being accused of covering up the murder of his brother, a prominent politician. In the US he was under house arrest and faced charges of laundering suspected drug payoffs.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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