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news briefs 2

Bad Weather May Halt Flight 800 Salvage Operations

Los Angeles Times

Already frustrated with the slow pace of recovery efforts, officials searching for clues to the crash of TWA Flight 800 may have to shut down their salvage operation over the holiday weekend because of bad weather.

Three storms that could develop into hurricanes off the Florida coast are expected to move up the Eastern Seaboard, potentially producing waves as high as 10 feet and endangering scuba divers.

Rear Adm. Ed Kristensen, director of the Navy salvage and scuba-diving efforts, said that heavy winds and storms this weekend could shut down the recovery operation.

"We're watching it and we've made contingency plans to bring all our small boats off the water," Kristensen said. "And we'll have to knock off the scuba diving if the water is too rough."

He added that the storm could sweep unrecovered material and bodies further out to sea. "The potential is there to disrupt the debris field," he said. "We'll have to come back out after the storm and see what we have."

Officials have warned local police departments and the Coast Guard to be on the lookout for aircraft pieces that might wash ashore from New York as far south as the Washington area.

"With the Labor Day weekend coming, I would ask all of the bathers and beachgoers and lifeguards and all of the people on the beach to please take this very, very seriously," said FBI assistant director James Kallstrom.

U.S. Troops Detain Serb Police After Attack on Muslims

Los Angeles Times

A futile attempt by Muslims to go home escalated Thursday into a tit-for-tat clash that ended only after U.S. troops detained and disarmed Bosnian Serb police while an angry Serb mob seized U.N. hostages.

In one of the most volatile confrontations since the Dayton, Ohio, peace accord halted Bosnia's war nine months ago, U.S. troops detained 25 Serb police who allegedly opened fire on a group of Muslim refugees who had tried to return to their war-destroyed village of Mahala. Ten Muslims were badly beaten, NATO officials said.

Mahala is in Bosnian Serb territory. But the Muslims had hoped to rebuild their homes and move in, a right guaranteed but rarely enforced in the peace treaty.

The episode revived the specter of wartime hostage-taking just 17 days before national elections are meant to mark another step in Bosnia's peacetime recovery.

With one contingent of Bosnian Serb police detained in Mahala, reinforcements arrived but were also taken into custody by the Americans, who confiscated assault rifles, pistols and grenades before releasing the men late Thursday.

Bosnian Serb radio meanwhile broadcast a call to the defense of its "police under siege"; within hours, more than 600 hostile Serbs surrounded the U.N. police station in nearby Zvornik, trashed U.N. vehicles and stoned U.N. personnel.

Gore Defends Inconsistency On Tobacco Issue

The Washington Post

Vice President Gore said it was "emotional numbness" that caused him to defend tobacco for years after his sister's death from lung cancer and said the need to break through that same "numbness" in society about the dangers of smoking caused him to tell the story of her illness in his speech at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night.

Gore denied there was any political motivation behind the Clinton administration's new war against teenage smoking, just as he said there was no political calculation behind his defense of tobacco growers at a time he was campaigning in southern, tobacco states during his 1988 presidential campaign.

On Wednesday, Gore said that his sister's death and statistics showing that 3,000 teenagers a day take up the habit had caused him to vow that, "Until I draw my last breath, I will pour my heart and soul into the cause of protecting our children from the dangers of smoking."

But in 1988, four years after his sister, Nancy Gore Hunger, died in "nearly unbearable pain," Gore said at a campaign rally in North Carolina, "Throughout most of my life, I raised tobacco. I want you to know that with my own hands, all of my life, I put it in the plant beds and transferred it. I've hoed it. I've chopped it. I've shredded it, spiked it, put it in the barn and stripped it and sold it."

Church Opens Arms to Simpson

The Washington Post

O.J. Simpson, an outcast from the rich, mostly white celebrity world he long inhabited, was given a thunderous, adoring welcome last night on a gritty block in Washington's Shaw neighborhood, where he told a church audience of more than 2,000 that he has always been attuned to black America's struggle.

"I don't think to an extent, I'm late to this game," Simpson told a standing-room-only crowd in Scripture Cathedral. "And I keep hearing everybody say, "He's back.' Well, maybe there's a point there to an extent."

The former football star, sports commentator and commercial pitchman, acquitted of double-murder charges last October, was smothered in the church with the sort of adoration he no longer receives in packed stadiums and corporate boardrooms.

With more than 30 television cameras lining the side aisles and the church's balcony railing, the program began about 7:20 p.m. and featured an array of speakers before Simpson, most of whom condemned what they described as news media distortion of the truth about Simpson.

Outside, about 20 protesters stood silently behind yellow police tape, but they did not disrupt the appearance.