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Briefs and Weather

35,000 Bring Cesar Chavez To His Final Resting Place

Los Angeles Times

DELANO, Calif.

This was the working people's state funeral.

In a white pine coffin planed and sanded by his brother, Cesar Chavez, the impassioned campesino who had swept across this sere, hot valley like another force of nature, was carried down the roads he had once marched, past the fields where he had toiled, on the shoulders of those who had marched and toiled with him.

The numbers grew with the day Thursday: 35,000 people followed the body of the leader of the United Farm Workers -- so many that the advance marchers were beginning to arrive at the UFW's 40 Acres compound just as the last ones began walking, three miles back into town.

Almost everyone who followed the red and black banners, who waved the squares of bedsheets with the UFW eagle stenciled them, had some story about Chavez, some epiphany that had compelled them to skip work or ditch school and fly or drive through the night, in buses or car caravans, from Florida, from Toronto, from Mexico, to be here.

At the end of the procession through the fields, marchers sat and stood for a funeral Mass under brightly striped tents.

Chavez's body was taken to an undisclosed place for a private burial. The family said it would announce the grave site afterward.

Administration Considers Continued Underground Nuclear Testing

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

The Clinton administration is considering an arms control proposal that would allow continued underground nuclear tests but sharply limit the explosive force of such experiments, U.S. officials said Thursday.

The plan, which is scheduled to be discussed Friday at a White House meeting, has been endorsed by senior officials at the Defense Department, Energy Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the directors of the three U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories, officials said.

The plan would allow continued testing of nuclear weapons with an explosive force equivalent to 1 kiloton, or 1,000 tons of TNT. That level is a 100-fold reduction from the maximum blast allowed under a treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1974.

But the plan has angered some Democratic legislators and anti-nuclear testing activists, who said it falls short of the comprehensive ban on nuclear tests endorsed by President Clinton during last year's election campaign and would conflict with recent legislation that calls for such a ban.

Congressional opponents of the plan, which has not yet been reviewed by Clinton, have argued that only a total nuclear test ban would forestall the development of new nuclear arms by the United States and discourage other nations from becoming nuclear powers.

Advocates of the plan have said that more nuclear tests are needed to ensure that U.S. weapons will function properly in wartime, and to conduct experiments aimed at improving the weapons' safety and reliability. The United States has roughly 10,500 nuclear warheads in its stockpile, plus roughly 6,000 awaiting disassembly under recent arms reduction treaties.

Traces of Nerve Gas Found In Soil of Town Hit by Hussein

Newsday

WASHINGTON

A British defense laboratory has found traces of a nerve gas and its byproducts in soil from an Iraqi village allegedly attacked with chemical warfare agents in August 1988 by Saddam Hussein's military, human-rights groups said Thursday.

"This is the first example, to our knowledge, that a suspected use of a nerve agent has been corroborated by the analysis of environmental residues," the laboratory report said.

The lab found a few billionths of a gram of Sarin, a potent nerve agent, and its less toxic breakdown products in soil taken last year from old bomb craters in the village of Birjinni in northern Iraq.

Alastair Hay, a chemical pathologist at the University of Leeds in Britain, said it has been generally assumed that Sarin and other nerve gases degrade so quickly under the influence of water and heat that no traces would be found. But Hay, a consultant to Physicians for Human Rights, told a news briefing that the findings suggest it may be possible to verify the use of nerve agents many months or even years after the fact.

Magnitude 5.5 Quake Rattles Parts of Southwest

Los Angeles Times

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake shook a large area of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah early Thursday, causing a brief power outage at Grand Canyon Village on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and waking residents of Flagstaff, Ariz.

Douglas Bausch, interim director of the Arizona Earthquake Information Center, said the quake occurred seven miles beneath the Earth's surface on the occasionally active Cataract Creek fault system, with the epicenter 25 miles south of the Grand Canyon.

The temblor took place in the same locale as an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.8 that did scattered damage Sunday. Besides some breakage in stores and spills from shelves in homes, the only damage reported in Thursday's quake was a blown power transformer at the town of Tusayan, six miles from Grand Canyon Village. No injuries were reported in either quake.

Although geologists at Northern Arizona University have sent monitoring instruments to the area, Bausch said a larger earthquake is not expected. He called the aftershock sequence Thursday normal, with the strongest aftershock put at magnitude 3.5.

The earthquake was felt as far north as Kanab and St. George, Utah, and through most of Grand Canyon National Park.