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Miners says strike is likely to end

CASTLEWOOD, Va. _ Miners who vote Monday on the contract offer that would end their 10{-month-old strike against Pittston Coal Group Inc. say the offer probably will be accepted. "It's a good contract. I think it'll fly," said John Kirk, a striking worker. The strike has idled 1,700 United Mine Workers members in three states. The striking miners got their first look Friday at Pittston's 49-page proposed contract. If the miners ratify the contract, they could be back at work by the end of the week.Needle exchange

legal, judge rules

TACOMA, Wash. _ The legality of the nation's first hypodermic needle exchange program has been upheld by a state judge. Superior Court Judge Robert Peterson said Friday that there is only preliminary proof the program is slowing the spread of AIDS but added, "to wait until you get that concrete, specific evidence is too late." Each week, health workers distribute about 2,000 clean needles to drug users in return for used ones, to prevent intravenous drug users who carry the AIDS virus from spreading it to others by sharing syringes.

Conference said not

affected by boycott

NEW ORLEANS _ An international effort to boycott the sixth international conference on AIDS in San Francisco this June in order to protest against U.S. immigration policies is having no effect, one of the conference's organizers said Saturday. Dr. John Mills said that, despite the protests, "registrations for the meeting are actually running substantially ahead of where they were at this time last year," for the fifth international AIDS conference in Montreal. Some health groups, AIDS activists and political organizations have urged a boycott of the conference to protest U.S. policies that restrict the travel of people infected with AIDS.

2 charged with

kidnap-extortion

WASHINGTON _ Two men have been charged with attempting to extract $75,000 from a family in exchange for a 5-year-old who has been missing since early December. Larry Pigue, the grandfather of Melissa Brannen, said the family received two phone calls that led to the arrests of Anthony G. McCray, 24, and Emmett M. Grier III, 20, both of Washington. The FBI arrested the two after arrangements were made to deliver the money. The men have been charged with extortion, and authorities said there is no indication they ever had custody of the child.

Exxon says much of

oil is off beaches

ANCHORAGE, Alaska _ Winter winds and waves have broken down or removed much of the oil left over from last year's cleanup of the Exxon Valdez spill, Exxon says. Officials said some beaches that were black with oil in September from the March 1989 spill are now clean. But state officials don't concur. "There's a considerable amount of oil that's not been removed," said Art Weiner, an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation official.

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