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News Briefs I

Recovering Yeltsin Decrees Revolution Day Will Be Renamed

Los Angeles Times

Thousands of Russians thronged through the streets of Moscow to commemorate the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 with traditional red flags and angry speeches, but President Boris N. Yeltsin, recovering from heart surgery, announced that Thursday's march will be the last hurrah for the Communist celebration.

From his hospital bed, Yeltsin issued a decree announcing that Nov. 7 - popularly known as Revolution Day and, until the Soviet collapse in 1991, the most important holiday on the Kremlin calendar - will be renamed the Day of Accord and Reconciliation.

It will still be a public holiday. But instead of glorifying the dictatorship of the proletariat and the rise to power of Soviet state founder V.I. Lenin, Yeltsin's spokesman said the new holiday will commemorate the victims of revolution, civil war and repression.

The decree was Yeltsin's first policy initiative after taking back presidential authority from Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin on Wednesday. Chernomyrdin stood in as president for 23 hours while Yeltsin had heart bypass surgery Tuesday.

Yeltsin's decree changing the holiday was announced only after about 10,000 Communists, most of them elderly, had started their annual march in Moscow, holding red carnations, chanting slogans and waving portraits of Lenin and dictator Josef Stalin.

Nov. 7 remained a holiday even after the Soviet Union collapsed. But the government has queasily avoided dwelling on its official title - the Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

NASA Launches First in Series Of Spacecraft to Study Mars

The Washington Post

Moving away from expensive, complicated projects like the ill-fated Mars Observer probe, NASA launched the first in a series of economy class spacecraft toward Mars on Thursday in what amounts to a scientific assault on the Red Planet.

Running one day late because of threatening high-altitude winds, a $55 million Delta 2 rocket blasted off just after noon, boosting NASA's $155 million Mars Global Surveyor away from Earth and onto a 10-month 435-million-mile voyage to Mars.

The spacecraft will reach Mars on Sept. 12, 1997, four years after NASA's $890 billion Mars Observer mission failed, and 15 years after the last surviving Viking Mars lander stopped transmitting from the martian surface in November 1982.

Over the next four months, the Surveyor will repeatedly dip into the martian atmosphere, using its two wing-like solar panels like speed brakes to bleed off energy. If it all works, the probe will end up in a circular two-hour orbit.

Finally, in March 1998, the Surveyor's solid-state camera and other instruments will begin mapping the Red Planet over the course of a 687-day Martian year - about two Earth years.

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Former Illinois Representative

The Washington Post

Two days after what might have been his reelection to a third term, former representative Mel Reynolds (D-Ill.) and his wife Marisol were indicted by a federal grand jury here Thursday charges of defrauding several banks, misusing campaign funds, and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.

The 16-count indictment accused Reynolds of submitting false financial statements and loan applications to four Chicago-area banks to obtain $150,000 in personal loans, and of fraudulently obtaining a $279,000 mortgage for the purchase of a $310,000 house in a Chicago suburb. He was charged with misusing campaign contributions from the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union and withdrawing more than $15,000 in checks from campaign accounts for his personal use. Reynolds was also accused of directing campaign workers to cash checks drawn on campaign accounts and return the cash to him.

Marisol Reynolds, 33, was charged in nine of the 16 counts, including allegations she forged the signature of a campaign committee official on letters in an attempt to understate the couple's debts and overstate their income while seeking the home mortgage loan.