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News Briefs, part 2

Midwest Floods Not Likely to Recur in Spring

The Washington Post

And now some good news for the Midwest: The floods that devastated the region last year are not likely to recur this spring, according to the best estimate of federal experts tracking climatological trends.

That was the word Thursday from Jack Burns of the National Weather Service's regional forecast office here. He briefed Transportation Secretary Federico Pena aboard the Coast Guard buoytender Sumac on the Mississippi River with St. Louis's towering arch etched against a crisp blue sky in the background.

Had the briefing taken place last June or July, the vessel would have been 35 feet higher. That's how high the mighty floods of '93 carried the Mississippi as it roared past the St. Louis waterfront.

Now, Burns said, the river is at about 14 feet, with 16 feet left to go before it hits flood stage. "We may not see any spring flooding this year," Burns told Pena.

Last year, the river crested at 49 feet at St. Louis. The 52-foot-high flood wall held here, but levees gave way elsewhere along the mighty river systems of the upper Midwest, flooding thousands of square miles of farmland, wiping out whole towns and causing damage estimated at more than $10 billion.

Sen. Warner Says He Would Never Support North

The Washington Post

Virginia Sen. John W. Warner unleashed a new attack on fellow Republican Oliver L. North Wednesday, saying he will not support North's bid for the Senate even if North wins the GOP nomination.

Warner, who already had questioned North's moral fitness to serve in the Senate, said in a letter Wednesday that, "I could not, as a matter of personal conscience, go to the voters of our great state and urge them to place their trust and confidence in" North.

Warner's statement widens the breach between him and the conservative wing of the Virginia Republican Party, where Warner's moderate positions have never been popular. Warner antagonized many conservatives last year when he refused to endorse the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Michael P. Farris. North also is a favorite of many of the party's conservative activists.

But the statement comes amid growing indications that Warner's outspoken opposition to North may be having the unintended effect of hurting North's rival for the Republican Senate nomination, former federal budget director James C. Miller III.

Several Republican activists say Warner's tilt toward Miller has irked some GOP conservatives, and Miller wrote Warner a letter Tuesday designed to put political distance between the two.

Police Arrest Suspects in Slaying Of Japanese Students

Los Angeles Times

Less than a week after the brutal slayings of two Marymount College students during a carjacking, Los Angeles police announced that two youths were arrested Wednesday in the case.

Taken into custody in the Friday night slayings -- which this week sparked international outrage and Japanese calls for gun control in the United States -- were Raymond Oscar Butler, 18, of the Los Angeles port district of San Pedro and Alberto V. Reygoza, 20, of nearby Long Beach, Calif.

The two had been under round-the-clock surveillance since Monday, when physical evidence was discovered tying them to the deaths, said Commander David Gascon of the Los Angeles Police Department. It was unclear what that evidence was, however, and police released few details about the arrests.

Takuma Ito, a Japanese citizen, and Go Matsuura, a U.S. citizen who grew up in Japan, were shot to death at about 11 p.m. Friday night in a carjacking in the parking lot of a Ralph's supermarket in San Pedro.

Gascon said the victims had been attacked "almost immediately upon arriving" at the store, when they "were approached by a male Hispanic who at gunpoint proceeded to commit a robbery."

During the course of the holdup, Gascon said, the two men were shot in the back of the head, and Ito's white 1994 Honda Civic was stolen by their attackers.

Board Recommends Expulsion Of 29 Midshipmen for Cheating

Los Angeles Times

A board of senior naval officers Thursday recommended the expulsion of 29 midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and disciplinary actions against 42 others for their involvement in the largest cheating scandal in the school's 148-year history.

The panel, known as the Honor Review Board, cleared 35 other midshipmen of any wrongdoing in the December 1992 incident. The recommendations now go the chief of naval operations, Adm. Frank B. Kelso II, and ultimately to Navy Secretary John H. Dalton for action.

The case has rocked the normally staid academy and raised questions about how effectively it is administering its longstanding honor code, which forbids midshipmen from cheating or lying. The code is considered a mainstay of officer training.

The Navy inspector general's office has concluded in a separate review that 133 students -- all of them second-classmen, or college juniors -- had obtained advance copies of a electrical engineering exam administered to 663 midshipmen.

The course, Electric Engineering 331, was reputed to be one of the most difficult at the academy, and was a prerequisite for graduation.

The document said that although ultimately 81 students finally admitted to cheating, most of them "repeatedly" lied during an initial investigation. And it charged that the academy did not act quickly enough to look into allegations of a possible cover-up.