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Female Cadet Quits VMI's Rat Line

The Washington Post

The Virginia Military Institute lost its second female cadet Sunday evening, shortly after a picnic on the parade ground where freshmen met their parents for the first time since joining the Lexington school's grueling Rat Line.

Amanda Harris, of Gettysburg, Pa., decided after talking to her parents Sunday afternoon that VMI's military education was not for her, and she had left the campus by 8.30 p.m., sources said.

Messages left at the Harris home in Gettysburg went unreturned Monday.

Departing students are routinely asked to write a short statement explaining why they want to leave. Citing privacy laws, a VMI spokesman declined to say what Harris wrote.

A source said Harris left because she was uncomfortable with the rigors of the school and its Rat Line. Another source said that Harris had been unsure she wanted to stay since late last week and that school officials arranged for at least one other female cadet to speak to her Friday to give her a boost.

VMI's first coeducational class in the school's 158 years has lost two women and 23 men in the last week, including two men who left Sunday. The class now has 28 women and 407 men.

The freshman dropout rate of 5.4 percent is slightly higher than VMI's average first-week dropout rate of 4 percent over the last 19 years.

Cuba Accuses U.S. of Biological War

LOsAngeles Times

In an episode that mixed Cold War rhetoric with sci-fi conspiracy theory, Cuba on Monday accused the United States of sprinkling the island with the larvae of crop-destroying insects in an act of "biological aggression."

The complaint of bug warfare - denounced as "ridiculous and without merit" by the U.S. State Department - came at U.N. offices in Geneva under terms of the 1972 Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention and marked the first time the treaty has been invoked.

Cuba's deputy foreign minister, Maria de los Angeles Flores, told reporters in Geneva that Havana wants an international investigation of the incident, but Monday's closed-door session, before signatories to the convention, adjourned without action. The hearing is scheduled to resume Wednesday after delegates have reviewed the U.S. response.

In documents filed with the United Nations in New York, Cuba claims to have caught the United States red-handed when the pilot of a Cuban airliner spotted a small airplane registered to the U.S. State Department releasing "a white or grayish mist" over the Lenin State Horticultural Farm in Cuba's Matanzas province last Oct. 21.

Two months later, the potato crop on the Lenin farm became infested with what the Cubans called a "plague" of thrips palmi, a hardy pest that thrives in subtropical climates.

Truth Commission Subpoenas Winnie Mandela

The Washington Post

South Africa's truth commission has issued a subpoena for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of President Nelson Mandela, to testify about the disappearance of youths in her bodyguard entourage during the days of apartheid, a commission official said.

Madikizela-Mandela, who was divorced from the president last year, was convicted in 1991 of kidnapping in connection with the 1989 disappearance and beating of four black youths; one of the boys, 14-year-old Moketsi "Stompie" Seipei died of internal injuries. Seipei, an anti-apartheid activist, was a member of the widely feared Mandela Football Club.

Instead of playing ball, the club served as a personal security force around Madikizela-Mandela in the black township of Soweto, south of Johannesburg, in the latter years of apartheid. Under white-minority rule, Madikizela-Mandela withstood jailings, internal banishment, firebombs and murder attempts by a succession of governments for whom her anti-apartheid activities and her famous name were a thorn in the side.

Last year, during a public hearing of the truth panel, the parents of two missing youths called on Madikizela-Mandela to tell what she knows about her bodyguards' involvement in the youths' disappearance.

Among the many mysteries surrounding the case was the whereabouts of one member, Katiza Cebekhulu, who was to have been a codefendant and key witness in the 1991 trial but disappeared before he could testify.