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The US will drop economic sanctions against Yugoslavia and back a massive aid program to rebuild the war-torn country if President Slobodan Milosevic permits free and fair elections, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said. She made the statement after a meeting with six Serbian political opponents of Milosevic.

The federal government sued seven power companies, mostly in the upper Midwest, saying their wind-blown emissions are a key source of smog and acid rain in New York and throughout the East. The lawsuit, announced by Attorney General Janet Reno, charges that 24 plants run by seven private utilities and the public Tennessee Valley Authority have repeatedly violated the Clean Air Act.

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President Clinton began his second tour of poverty pockets in the booming US economy. He traveled to Newark, N.J., where professional-sports executives were to announce efforts they're undertaking to help various urban areas. His two-day tour will also take him to Hartford, Conn., Hermitage, Ark., and Chicago.

The NAACP threatened to boycott one of the major TV networks Jan. 1, if they don't show a "real and measurable effort" to increase participation of blacks at all levels. Kweisi Mfume, the leader of the civil rights group, warned at a news conference in New York, that one of the networks - ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox - might be singled out for a boycott that would last through the February ratings period.

San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown failed to win outright re-election, and was forced into a run-off by a last-minute write-in campaign. City officials said it could be days before the other finalist is known. Opposition votes were scattered among three challengers - former Mayor Frank Jordan, political consultant Clint Reilly, and Tom Ammiano, president of the Board of Supervisors, who just three weeks ago launched his write-in campaign.

Banks challenged San Francisco's bid to ban the fees they charge noncustomers for using ATM machines. The California Bankers Association joined Wells Fargo and Bank of America in asking a federal judge to overturn the ban, approved by almost a 2-to-1 margin in a referendum Tuesday. The banks accused the city of "overstepping its authority."

The Senate voted overwhelmingly to extend new trade privileges to Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America. Now congressional negotiators will try to mesh competing versions of the legislation. A House-passed measure only covers the 48 nations of sub-Saharan Africa. The Senate bill would deny trade benefits to countries condoning the worst forms of child labor.

Hundreds of children awaiting trial in Maryland jails are housed with violent adults, receive inadequate medical care, and are given little schooling, Human Rights Watch said. The report found that juveniles were confined to "dimly lit, squalid cells, crawling with cockroaches and rodents and subject to extreme temperatures." Maryland is one of 40 states that have made it easier to try children as adults, moving more of them into a criminal-justice system that allows them to be held in adult cells while awaiting trial.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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