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News briefs

Ukraine, Russia Agree to Talks On Dividing Up Black Sea Fleet

The Washington Post

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine

Ukraine and Russia stepped back from a major political and territorial confrontation Thursday, agreeing to suspend their unilateral moves on the disputed Black Sea fleet and to begin negotiations on dividing it up.

The agreement, reached in telephone calls between Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, comes after two days of mounting tension in this Crimean peninsula city that serves as the fleet's home port. Reports that militia groups were on their way from Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, to take over naval installations here had led fleet commanders to send military police supported by armored personnel carriers into the streets of Sevastopol.

Earlier, some naval units had begun to carry out Yeltsin's order to raise the czarist flag of St. Andrew recently adopted by Russian naval forces. Yeltsin issued his order Tuesday in response to a decree by Kravchuk announcing the formation of a Ukrainian navy based in the Crimea, a Russian-populated area that was ceded to Ukraine by Moscow in 1954 for largely administrative reasons.

"If we look at this in formal terms, Yeltsin's decree puts Ukraine in a state of war with Russia. The fleet is Ukrainian property," said Dmitrij Pavlichko, the head of a Ukrainian parliamentary commission on foreign affairs and a member of the high-level Ukrainian delegation sent to Sevastopol to take over the fleet.

Oregon Study Finds 1 in 4 Deaths Related to Tobacco

The Los Angeles Times

PORTLAND, Ore.

The tobacco industry has taken another hit.

Three years ago, Oregon became the first state to require death certificates to say whether tobacco was a contributing factor in the death. The first results are now in, with doctors reporting that 6,276 of the state's deaths in 1989 -- about one in every four -- were related to tobacco products.

Michael Skeels, Oregon Health Division administrator, called the total "shocking and startling" and said tobacco use is clearly Oregon's "biggest public health threat."

"This report shows that cigarette smoking causes more premature deaths than automobile accidents, suicides, homicides, and AIDS combined," Skeels said.

Walker Merryman, vice president of the Tobacco Institute, an industry group, said he had not seen the report, issued last month, and could not comment on it. But he criticized information from death certificates as inaccurate without autopsies.

"We don't know if the physician who signs the certificate is the primary care physician or a coroner or had never seen the patient before," he said.

House Votes to Employ a Manager

The Washington Post

Washington

The House, moved by scandals to look inward and clean up its affairs, Thursday adopted a package of administrative changes that introduces professional management and curbs political patronage in non-legislative operations.

A Democratic resolution approved 269 to 81 along party lines authorizes the hiring of a professional administrator to oversee nonlegislative affairs including payroll, food, and mail services, the three sources of embarrassing scandals that have ended the political careers of several lawmakers and threaten many more.

The new administrator, a cross between a city manager and a chief financial officer, is to hire employees for 22 services under his control "without regard to political affiliation, and solely on the basis of fitness to perform the duties involved." The partial ban on patronage hiring does not apply to Capitol Police officers, doorkeepers, pages, and legislative clerks.

Weather

Spring Medley

By Marek Zebrowski
Staff Meteorologist

Passage of a weak cold front this morning will give us a pleasant, if somewhat windy, Friday; then a warm front, advancing from the Mid-Atlantic states northward, will bring in some unsettled weather into our area on Saturday. Should it move northward far enough, we might feel a brief touch of warmth and a glimpse of hazy sun just before sunset. Otherwise, a shower or two late Saturday will usher in a cold high pressure system that will dominate our weather for the latter part of the weekend and into Monday with fair skies and brisk temperatures.

Friday afternoon: Mostly sunny with brisk northwesterly winds 15-25 mph (24-40 kph). High around 60F (16C).

Friday night: Becoming cloudy, winds diminishing and coming onshore toward dawn. Low around 39F (4C).

Saturday: Cloudy and damp with periods of rain. East to southeast winds may become more southerly late in the day with brightening skies and rising temperatures. High around 50F (10C).

Saturday night: Few showers possible, winds shifting to northwest, temperatures dropping through the 40s (5-10C).

Sunday outlook: Becoming fair and colder with daytime highs in the 50s (10-13C) and lows in the 30s (2-4C).