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News Briefs I

Explosives on TWA Flight May Be From 747's Gulf War Duty

The Washington Post

Investigators said Monday they are looking into whether microscopic traces of explosive residue might have come aboard Trans World Airlines Flight 800 when the Boeing 747 was being used as a troop carrier in the Persian Gulf war.

James K. Kallstrom, the FBI agent in charge of the criminal portion of the probe, acknowledged that "it's something we're looking at." He and others involved in the investigation emphasized that they still have not reached "critical mass" on what might have brought down the plane with 230 people.

The TWA plane was among several planes pressed into service to move troops during the Gulf war. According to sources close to the investigation, its last use for a troop movement was in 1991.

Explosives are not supposed to be brought into the passenger cabin of an aircraft in such movements, but investigators will want to know whether the tiny traces found so far could have been brought aboard on the boots or uniforms of soldiers who had used explosives in the war.

Citadel Opens With Four Women

The Washington Post

The sky was still dark when the young men jogged into the courtyard and began shouting for new students to get out of their bunks. Moments later a song by the heavy metal group AC-DC echoed through the cavernous dormitory.

The song was "Hell's Bells" and this was the start of a "hell week" at The Citadel, a tortuous period of in-your-face military training known by all graduates of the school as the time in which new students will either decide to remain in the state-supported military college or leave. With four women among the 568 freshmen, what happens to the Class of 2000 has become a soap opera here, complete with live television reports from the college campus featured throughout the day.

As college barbers administered what school officials described as a short, "unique female Citadel haircut" - above the ear and off the neck - to the women, school officials continued to predict that the four would succeed here. By midday the four had already outlasted the school's first female cadet, Shannon Faulkner, who dropped out a year ago after a half-day of military indoctrination, citing isolation and stress from her court case to force the institution to admit her.

"Everything is going well," said Brig. Gen. R. Clifton Poole, the school's acting president, at a mid-morning briefing. He and other Citadel officials have maintained that the school had no choice but to admit women, dropping a 153-year-old policy, after the Supreme Court ruled June 26 that a similar male-only admission policy at Virginia Military Institute was unconstitutional.

China Criticizes U.S. Missile Sales

The Washington Post

The issue of Taiwan once again emerged at the center of a dispute between the United States and China, with Beijing Monday sharply criticizing a Pentagon decision to sell advanced Stinger missiles to the island. The Chinese warned that the sale could damage recently improving U.S.-Sino relations.

"We ask the U.S. side... to cancel plans to sell missiles to Taiwan to prevent creating new damage to Sino-U.S. relations,'' a Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying here Monday.

Despite China's strong objections, the Pentagon announced on Friday it would move forward with a plan to sell $420 million worth of military equipment to Taipei. The package includes 1,299 Stingers _ the type used against Iraqi Scud missiles in the Persian Gulf War _ as well as 74 guided-missile launchers, 74 flight-trainer Stingers, 96 Humvee vehicles and 500 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition.

Taiwan has said that China need not be concerned about the purchases, which top officials in Taipei, the Taiwanese capital, describe as purely defensive. The Defense Department, in a statement to Congress on Friday, also said the sale of the equipment ``will not affect the military balance in the region.''

The flap over the missile sales comes at a particularly sensitive time in U.S.-Sino relations, which reached a low point this spring _ in the weeks before Taiwan's first fully democratic presidential election, when China staged missile tests and military exercises off the Taiwanese coast. The Clinton administration responded by sending two aircraft carriers to nearby waters.