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An unarmed missile was destroyed over the Pacific Ocean in the first test of a so-called kill-vehicle national-defense system. After its launch from the Marshall Islands, the prototype missile hit an unarmed Minuteman carrying a dummy warhead and a decoy balloon. The success was seen putting new pressure on President Clinton to approve deployment of a national missile-defense system.

Senate debate of the 152-nation Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will begin Friday, leaders of both parties agreed. Meanwhile, The Washington Post said the CIA has concluded it can't monitor low-level nuclear tests accurately enough to ensure compliance with the treaty. Quoting senior US officials, the newspaper said Russia carried out two tests last month in the Arctic, but US intelligence from seismic sensors and other monitors could not determine the exact nature of the tests.

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GOP lawmakers backed away from a plan to delay income-support payments to working-poor families after Texas Gov. George W. Bush said they were trying to "balance their budget on the backs of the poor." The proposal, already approved by the House Appropriations Committee, would change a lump-sum payment that nearly 20 million recipients of the earned-income-tax credit now receive into 12 monthly payments.

The Gore campaign accused Democratic challenger Bill Bradley of trying to "duck" a challenge to debate every two weeks. The former New Jersey senator has not specifically turned down the vice president's proposal, but his campaign chairman sent a letter to the Gore campaign, noting that a joint Oct. 27 town-hall meeting in Manchester, N.H., and several forums scheduled next year already give the two presidential candidates opportunities for debate.

A first batch of new benefit statements was sent to workers paying into Social Security. Administrators plan to send annual contribution and benefit statements to 125 million enrollees. The daily mailings will be timed so every worker over age 25 receives updated information once a year about three months before his or her birthday. Congress voted in 1989 to require the mailings, which at 56 cents a letter will cost about $70 million a year.

US officials took control of subsistence fisheries in the nearly two-thirds of Alaska that is federally owned. The move came after state legislators failed to pass a measure that would protect rural villagers' fishing rights over those of sport and commercial fishermen, as required by federal law. After several years of urging such action, US Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt had set a Sept. 30 deadline for state approval of a constitutional amendment to protect subsistence fishing.

Hundreds of homeless families rallied in Washington at the start of a month-long march designed to focus attention on poverty. The participants, covering some 10 miles daily, are expected to arrive Nov. 1 in New York City.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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