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Pat Buchanan formally quit the Republican Party, tying his third bid for the presidency to the Reform Party, founded in 1995 by Texas billionaire Ross Perot. Following months of speculation, Buchanan announced his defection at a news conference in Falls Church, Va.

Billionaire Donald Trump may be Buchanan's main challenger for the Reform Party nomination. The New York developer told NBC TV he would be joining the Independence Party - the Reform Party's New York affiliate - because Republicans are "too crazy right." He said he would decide by March whether to mount a campaign for the nomination.

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President Clinton ordered the first federal study of prescription-drug prices and the problems faced by elderly Americans in buying medicine. Striking back at a multimillion-dollar ad campaign by the pharmaceutical industry, the administration said drug costs often are higher in the US than in Canada and other countries. The industry has led the fight against Clinton's proposal to include prescription-drug coverage in the Medicare program for the aged and disabled.

Spending bills for 2000 - an election year - are being "earmarked" for billions of dollars of projects in lawmakers' home districts, analysts and some members of Congress said. "Pork-barrel spending ... is at an all-time high," GOP presidential candidate John McCain told ABC TV. In funding the Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, lawmakers earmarked a record 314 projects valued at $473 million -13 percent of the agency's operating budget - for specific projects in their districts.

College presidents should make teacher-preparation programs a priority in the next decade, the nation's largest higher-education group said. The American Council on Education referred to projections that 2.5 million new teachers will be needed by 2010 - about 20 percent more than the normal turnover - because of more retirements, growing enrollments, and reductions in class size.

Hawaii's shipping industry and dockworkers' union reached a tentative settlement, averting a strike that had threatened to cripple the islands' economy. The threat of a dock strike had triggered panic buying of staples like rice.

John Chafee (R), who died at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, was Rhode Island's senator since 1977 and a former governor who earned praise even from Democrats for his moderate stance on many issues. In addition to 22 years in the Senate, Chafee's rsum included six years as governor, 3-1/2 years as secretary of the Navy, and six years as a state representative. He announced this year he would not seek a fifth Senate term in 2000.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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