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NATION CALIFORNIA 2 On O.J. Jury Dismissed, Paper Reports

Two of the jurors in the O.J. Simpson murder case have been dismissed by Judge Lance Ito less than a week before opening arguments in the case, it was reported Saturday.

The Los Angeles Daily News identified the jurors as a 38-year-old Hispanic female letter carrier and a 48-year-old black man who works for the Hertz rental car corporation.

The letter carrier has been in an abusve relationship and the Hertz employee had falsely told lawyers during jury selection that he had never met Simpson, the newspaper said.

The two were expected to be replaced by alternate jurors, the paper said. Reuters

***** CALIFORNIA Clinic To Treat Victims Of Toxic Waste

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will fund a clinic near two hazardous waste sites in Torrance, Calif.

The clinic at the University of California-Irvine will help treat people who have been exposed to toxic substances from the Del Amo and Montrose Superfund sites.

Del Amo is a former rubber manufacturing plant, from which benzene emissions are considered dangerous, said EPA regional spokeswoman Paula Bruin. Montrose is a former DDT plant. Reuters

***** WORLD HAITI New U.S. General Takes Charge Of Troops

A new U.S. general took over command of the 6,000 U.S. troops in Haiti Saturday as pressure builds for the United Nations to take over the peacekeeping functions from the Americans.

Maj. Gen. George Fisher officially replaced Maj. Gen. David Meade, the man who had been in charge for much of the time since the Sept. 19 arrival in Haiti of U.S. troops.

The U.S. Army peacefully invaded Haiti to help restore exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Although no date for the pullout has been announced, speculation has been that the Americans would hand over military control to a U.N. force sometime in March. Reuters

***** SOMALIA Gunmen Holding 15 Foreign U.N. Staff

Up to 30 armed Somalis formerly employed by the United Nations seized about 15 foreign U.N. staff in Mogadishu Saturday, held them hostage and demanded payment.

Maj. Zubair Chattha, a U.N. military spokesman, said the former U.N. staff workers, demanding what they said were overdue payments, entered the residential office in a U.N. compound near Mogadishu airport and seized the foreign employees.

The gunmen barricaded the office and began negotiations, Chattha said.

The U.N. office has dismissed about 600 of its 2,500 Somali employees so far and plans to lay off many others, seeking to withdraw from Somalia by the end of March. Reuters

***** LIBERIA 3 Killed In Protests After Talks Break Off

Two civilians and a bodyguard were killed Saturday in violent protests in Monrovia over the breakdown of peace talks aimed at ending Liberia's 5-year-old civil war. …