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News briefs

6.1 Quake Hits Southern California

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck a broad area of Southern California on Wednesday night, rocking high-rise office buildings in downtown Los Angeles for several seconds and sending out strong shock waves that were felt from Las Vegas, Nev., to San Diego.

Seismologists from the California Institute of Technology and the U.S. Geological Survey said the tremblor was centered nine miles east of Desert Hot Springs, Calif., on an unnamed north-south fault five miles northeast of the San Andreas Fault.

The quake jostled Southern California with a sustained rolling motion, temporarily knocking out telephone service from Riverside east to the Arizona border. Initial reports indicated that the quake caused little damage and no injuries.

A USGS seismologist said there would be a 10 percent chance within the next three days of a great quake on the San Andreas Fault stronger than Wednesday's tremblor.

The quake hit shortly before 10 p.m. PDT and was felt for at least 60 seconds in some areas. It temporarily knocked at least one television station off the air, but electrical service to downtown Los Angeles was unaffected.

U.N. Weighs Plan to Tap Iraqi Assets

The Washington Post

UNITED NATIONS

The United States plans to push for a resolution under which frozen Iraqi assets would be used to pay for eliminating Baghdads's weapons of mass destruction, compensating victims of its invasion of Kuwait and providing humanitarian aid, Western diplomats say.

Among key U.S. allies, France and Britain have appeared cool to the plan, expressing concern that it might lead to legal and technical problems. Nvertheless, Washington appears prepared to press ahead, and a Western diplomat said a draft resolution may be presented to the Security Council within a week.

About $5.5 billion in Iraqi assets have been frozen around the world, including more than $1 billion in the United States, an official said. In addition, about $1.5 billion might be available from Iraqi oil held mainly in Saudi Arabian tanks and in a pipeline linking Iraq with Turkey as well as from payments for crude oil that were held up after the U.N. embargo following Iraq's Aug. 2, 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The move to tap frozen assets stems chiefly from Iraq's refusal to sell oil under U.N.-mandated terms. Such sales were expected, in part, to pay for destruction of Iraq's chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic arms facilities and for humanitarian measures. Diplomats expressed confidence that the United States can muster sufficient support from other council members for the proposal.

`Dating Service' for Ex-Soviet Scientists to Start in June

The Baltimore Sun

Washington

A Moscow center offering useful work for former Soviet weapons scientists to prevent them from selling their skills abroad is on the way to starting up in June, a key State Department official said Thursday.

The $75 million International Science and Technology Center will serve as a sort of "dating service" matching scientists' knowledge with peaceful government and private-sector research projects.

A high priority, said Robert Gallucci, the State Department official in charge of the project, will be research into nuclear-plant safety and management of nuclear waste. A second center is planned for Ukraine, with $10 million from the United States.

The center, which will be headed by an international board of Russians and Westerners, arose out of fears that with the end of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet economy, scientists who developed nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction would be hired by countries seeking dangerous weapons.

The United States has put the number of nuclear weapons scientists at about 3,000. But the overall nuclear weapons establishment, including those involved in manufacturing and in reprocessing fuel, could number 80,000 to 90,000, Gallucci said.

WEATHER

Retrograde

By Marek Zebrowski
Staff Meteorologist

A low pressure system moving out of the Ohio Valley on Friday will end the first spell of nice spring weather in our area. This storm is forecast to both intensify as it moves northward and slow down, as it passes to the south of New England during Saturday and Sunday. By Monday this low will reach Nova Scotia, unfortunately not soon enough to rescue our weekend from a typical spring pattern of onshore winds, pesky rainshowers and generally gloomy skies.

Monday and Tuesday portend fairer and warmer weather as a high pressure system will gradually move into our region.

Friday afternoon: Cloudy with rain developing. High around 52F (11C) with light winds steadily increasing from the east 10-15mph (16-24 kmh).

Friday night: Periods of rain, some fog in coastal areas. Low around 40F (5C), northeast winds continuing.

Saturday: Occasional rain and showers. Cool with highs in mid to upper 40s (7-9C), persisting onshore winds.

Saturday night: Continuing damp and chilly, lows in the low 40s (5-7C).

Sunday outlook: Chance of showers. Highs in the 50s (10-12C) lows in the 40s (6-8C).