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U.S. troops in Panama back down to normal levels

WASHINGTON - Only 13,504 U.S. troops remain in Panama, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Tuesday. That's 93 fewer than were stationed there before the Dec. 20 invasion that ousted Manuel Noriega.About 27,000 U.S. troops were in Panama at the operation's peak.

American servicemen are still assuming many police functions in the country and are helping train a new police force, officials said.

Aspen rejects furrier ban

ASPEN, Colo. - Residents of this tiny, trendy ski resort town rejected an ordinance Tuesday that would have made it the nation's first furrier-free zone. With all eight precincts counted, the fur-ban ordinance lost, 1,701 to 898. The fur fight polarized the town, with Mayor Bill Stirling and his wife leading animal-rights activists in demanding the ban and furriers leading the charge against it, claiming it would drive away tourists. The small old mining town has four fur shops.

Gunmen seize school bus

PRINCE GEORGE, British Columbia - Three armed men commandeered a school bus Tuesday, taking the driver and up to 18 students hostage, police said. The gunmen reportedly asked for a getaway car. Police sharpshooters were sent to the scene, but no shots had been fired by late Tuesday.

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