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Ray to get parole hearing: The confessed killer of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will go before the Tennessee parole board for the first time May 25 to seek an early release from his 99-year prison sentence.

James Earl Ray confessed in 1969 to killing King, although he since has tried without success to take back his guilty plea and get a new trial.

State law in effect at the time of his guilty plea requires a parole hearing after 30 years in prison, minus time for good behavior and other sentence credits.

Former Black Panther hospitalized: Leroy "Eldridge" Cleaver, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party, underwent surgery Tuesday for a brain hemorrhage.

Cleaver, 58, was in critical condition at a Berkeley, Calif., hospital. He apparently fell ill while being booked on charges of public intoxication, cocaine possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said. It was not known what caused the hemorrhage.

Cleaver fled the country after a 1968 shootout in which a party member was killed. When he returned in 1975, he denounced the Black Panthers and said he had undergone a religious conversion.

New names for new bills: Mary Ellen Withrow was sworn in Tuesday as the nation's 40th treasurer, and she and Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen soon will place their signatures on new U.S. currency.

Bentsen's signature replaces that of former Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady. Withrow's signature replaces that of Catalina Vasquez Villalpando, who pleaded guilty last month to income tax evasion and other charges.

The treasurer's job is essentially ceremonial and honorary. Withrow, 63, had been Ohio treasurer since 1983, will be in charge of promoting the sale of U.S. Savings Bonds and will oversee the minting of coins and printing of paper money.

Richest prefer cities: They'll take Manhattan _ and Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, too.

According to a study of 1990 census data by Chicago sociologist Pierre deVise, the wealthiest Americans are clustered in major cities near the poorest Americans, while the middle class has headed for the suburbs.

DeVise found that the richest community with more than 25,000 residents was the Upper East Side of Manhattan, with an average per capita income of $92,517.