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The New York Times

BOND BUY BACK - The Clinton Administration announced it would change its strategy for handling the $3.6 trillion it owes to the public in the form of bond buy back as it seeks to minimise its interest expenses.

ISRAEL - The mood in Syria today is such that when visitors like Ahmed Abu Khalid gaze from Quneitra into the middle distance, where Israeli traffic is plainly visible, they say they see an Israeli-Syrian peace that may be nearer than ever before.

GAY BOY SCOUT CASE - Equating the Boy Scouts with such public accommodations as restaurants, libraries, schools and theaters, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the organization's expulsion of a gay Eagle Scout in 1990 violated the state's anti-discrimination law.

CHEMICAL GIANTS MERGE - The Dow Chemical Co. said it was acquiring the Union Carbide Corp. for $9.3 billion in stock in a deal that would join two household names and create a chemical giant second only to DuPont in size.

TIMBER WARS - Five years after the Clinton Administration hammered out a landmark plan to settle legal and environmental disputes over logging across the Pacific Northwest, the region's timber wars are flaring up again.

UMPIRE DISPUTE - To his critics it is something of a wonder it took so long for Richie Phillips to stumble. For them, it has been hard over the years to tell when he was reflecting his union members wishes and when he was shaping them.

CELL PHONE CRAZE - In July, Italy crossed a communications threshold: It now has more cell phones than telephone lines, a feat thus far achieved only by Finland. The phenomenon fascinates Italians, who can no more stop theorizing about their cell phone addiction than they can stop placing calls.

SERBS PURGED - Half of the homes in Zitinje, Yugoslavia, gape emptily now, purged of all their Serbs in one of the failures of the U.S. peace-keeping mission in Kosovo.

INDIAN GROWTH - Sometime in the next week or so, the population of India, which adds more people to the world each year than any other nation, will officially cross the one billion mark, just in time for Indian Independence Day on Aug. 15, according to U.N. demographers.

GUNS - In a game involving semiautomatic pistols, two teens in Wisconsin shot each other. Efrain Casas died, the other teen, Eduardo Rivera, was shot through the neck and is now a quadriplegic who has also been charged with the murder of his friend.

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