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News Briefs

American Airlines Pilots Received Weather Updates Before Crash LOS ANGELES TIMES -- LITTLE ROCK, Ark.

Air-traffic controllers gave the pilots of Flight 1420 detailed, regularly updated information about the dangerous weather in the moments before the American Airlines jetliner crashed here, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

NTSB investigators are attempting to determine why -- despite being told that a gusty hailstorm was about to strike Little Rock National Airport -- Capt. Richard Buschmann went ahead with his decision to land. Such decisions always are the responsibility of the pilot in command.

As the Super MD-80 landed late Tuesday night, it careened out of control, veering right and then left before skidding off the runway, smashing into a light standard and bursting into flames.

Nine of the 145 people on board died in the crash -- among them Buschmann, a highly respected veteran pilot who had logged more than 9,000 hours in the cockpit. Over 80 other people were injured.

Investigators theorize that the jetliner was struck by a powerful gust of wind -- possibly as high as 87 mph -- just as the plane touched down on the runway.

ANC Strengthens Party Majority NEWSDAY -- PRETORIA, South Africa

Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress bulldozed over a host of opposition parties Thursday and appeared likely to capture a two-thirds majority in the country’s second all-race election, confirming the worst fears of foes who had warned of a virtual dictatorship if such a landslide occurred.

In a sign of white disgruntlement after five years of black rule, the overwhelmingly white Democratic Party, which waged a fierce anti-ANC campaign that sparked allegations of racism, surged to second place with nearly 10 percent of the vote after having achieved 1.7 percent in the last election in 1994.

“The people have spoken,” the ANC president, Thabo Mbeki, told a victory celebration Thursday afternoon in a ballroom festooned with balloons and jammed with dancing celebrants and ANC officials. “The people have said unequivocally that the ANC leads.” Mbeki is expected to be formally elected president June 14 by the Parliament chosen in Wednesday’s balloting, in which South Africans defied predictions of apathy and turned out in droves. The Independent Electoral Commission estimated turnout at 85 percent of 18.2 million registered voters.

With more than 80 percent of the votes counted late Thursday, the ANC had 65.9 percent, a nearly 4 percent increase over its 1994 showing.

U.S., Canada Sign Salmon Pact THE WASHINGTON POST -- The United States and Canada Thursday announced a landmark

agreement on salmon fishing in the Pacific Ocean, a pact designed to end a bitter, decades-long dispute over the harvest of fish whose epic migrations ignore national boundaries and have sometimes brought competing fishermen to the brink of violence.

Hailing the agreement after years of difficult negotiations between their neighboring countries, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy said in a joint statement that the new arrangement “represents a victory for all those on both sides of the border interested in salmon conservation and the long-term viability of our salmon industries.”

The technique, first used several years ago by Alaska over the strenuous objections of Canadian and tribal interests, is designed to respond to often large fluctuations in runs of the five species of salmon in the north Pacific. The regime allows larger harvests in years of abundance and smaller ones in lean years, but overall will likely reduce the catch by as much as 50 percent in some stocks.