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A sweeping debt-relief program for the world's poorest nations gained final approval from the International Monetary Fund. The pledge total is now $2.5 billion, a five-fold increase since Wednesday, according to British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. New contributions include a US pledge of nearly $1 billion over four years, announced Wednesday. Britain and Germany pledged an additional $50 million and $55 million, respectively.

Linda Tripp sued the White House and her employer, the Defense Department, alleging they used confidential records to smear her reputation after she brought the Monica Lewinsky scandal to light by secretly recording telephone conversations with Lewinsky. The suit, in a Washington federal court, says unidentified people in the executive office of the president "unlawfully disclosed" contents of "personnel files, FBI files, security files, and other government records."

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Dan Quayle is abandoning his uphill fight for the Republican presidential nomination, aides said. The former vice president was scheduled to make a formal announcement yesterday in Phoenix, where he now lives. While confident of a strong showing in New Hampshire, Quayle realized "he would not have the resources necessary" to wage a competitive national campaign, a senior campaign strategist explained. Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain was expected to formally kick off his campaign for the nomination.

Medicare is still vulnerable to potential Y2K computer problems, the Clinton administration said. In draft testimony prepared for a House Government Reform subcommittee hearing yesterday, the Health Care Financing Administration said doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and other Medicare providers "still do not appear to be doing all that they must." In separate testimony, congressional auditors also expressed concern that Medicare contractors would run out of time to find and fix glitches in data-exchange systems.

US Airways has ordered its pilots to fly Boeing 737s faster during takeoffs and landings to avoid the type of rudder malfunction believed to have caused the crash of Flight 427 near Pittsburgh in 1994. Citing airline memos dated this month, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said US Airways told pilots to fly 20 knots (23 m.p.h.) faster during certain phases of takeoffs and landings. Pilots say added speed gives them more time to recognize and correct rudder problems. The Federal Aviation Administration has left it up to individual airlines to decide whether to adopt speed changes.

Firefighters in California were hampered by heat and dry conditions as they fought a string of fires. On the central coast, blazes that have burned 42,454 acres of the Los Padres National Forest near Big Sur were about one-quarter contained over the weekend. Further north, where fires have burned more than 60,000 acres of the Trinity Alps Wilderness over the past month, a blaze in Happy Valley in rural Shasta County destroyed at least 37 homes and forced more than 200 people to evacuate.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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