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A DIARY OF THE WEEK

When the rabies emergency of Concord, N.H., was declared over, its only casualties were four kittens.

But the news that the fatal disease had struck a household pet _ to wit, a black and white kitten named Lucy _ sent fear through the city of 36,000 on the banks of the Merrimack River.

Health officials say that three other kittens, which died before Lucy's illness was diagnosed, were probably rabid as well.

Rabies became Topic A along Main Street, around the imposing granite buildings that house the state government and on the airwaves.

More than 650 people who either passed through the store that sold the rabid kitten, or who thought they might have _ or were just scared _ underwent a series of rabies vaccinations, which can cost up to $2,000.

At the Concord Aquarium and Pet Center, which sold the rabid kitten, the telephone rang constantly.

"It is incredibly hard to pass rabies along," the owner, Tim Jandebeur, told one caller. "There has never been a person with rabies in New Hampshire."

That last statistic is just fine with the state's Department of Public Health, which worked overtime to contain the threat. By the end of the week, its rabies hot line had received more than 700 calls.

As Thornton Wilder once wrote about another New Hampshire town, "In Our Town we like to know the facts about everybody."

ELUSIVE PEACE: Even as Bosnian Muslim forces were exulting in a major success on the battlefield _ they drove Bosnian Serb troops back from their siege of an important northwestern city _ the Clinton administration last week sought to give them another victory on the diplomatic front. It introduced a resolution at the United Nations that could exempt Bosnia's Muslim-led government from the arms embargo applied to the former Yugoslavia after it broke into warring pieces.

The two developments give the Bosnian Serbs compelling new reasons to accept a peace deal that already has been accepted by the Muslims. But whether they will bow to the pressure is far from clear.

Bihac, the city whose siege the Muslims broke, is only one front in Bosnia, and the lifting of the embargo against the Bosnian government would not take place until six months from now.

The American move in the Security Council seemed aimed at giving the Europeans and Russia time to persuade the Serbs to sign the peace deal, framed in July by the United States, Russia, Britain, France and Germany. It would reduce Serbian-held territory from 70 percent to 49 percent.

The Clinton administration acted under strong pressure this summer from both the House and Senate to give the Muslims better means to defend themselves. On the other hand, the Europeans, who have peacekeeping forces on the ground, oppose the step, fearing a wider war. Difficult bargaining lies ahead.

WHEN REBEL TURNS POLITICIAN, AFRICANS WORRY: Throughout the two-year cease-fire that led to last week's elections in Mozambique, the question about Afonso Dhlakama, the rebel leader turned presidential candidate, was: Is he another Jonas Savimbi? That is, was he committed to this novelty of democracy, or would he, like his guerrilla counterpart in Angola, Savimbi, lead his partisans back to war if he did not like the vote results?

On Thursday, as Mozambicans poured to the polls for the first of three voting days, Dhlakama revived the speculation by suddenly announcing a boycott of the election, claiming the government was plotting a wholesale fraud.

But Dhlakama has neither willing soldiers nor sponsors for a return to the bush. A day later he was back. It seems he merely wanted to signal that, whoever wins, the world should not ignore him.

There probably will be more such fits, as Dhlakama angles for a place of influence. In southern Africa, the man he calls to mind is not Savimbi, but Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Zulu nationalist who is the region's master brinksman.

THE RIGHT TO DIE: Three years ago William F. Meyer III helped his terminally ill 88-year-old father commit suicide at the older man's house in West Hartford, Conn. He helped shroud his head in a plastic bag held in place by rubber bands. He even restrained his father's arms to keep him from reflexively removing the bag, as his father had done in an earlier attempt.

After reading a letter the older Meyer left, the police labeled his death a suicide. This summer, though, they charged the younger Meyer with second-degree manslaughter.

After his father's death, Meyer had begun to speak more fully about his own role in the suicide _ the disclosures culminating in a lengthy account in August in Connecticut magazine.

The article, and extensive research material willingly provided by the journalist who interviewed him, prompted the authorities to arrest Meyer, 65, who lives in Westport.

Meyer, who pleaded not guilty and remains free, is eager to push for laws giving the terminally ill the right to die.

WOMAN PILOT DIES IN THE NEW NAVY: One of the Navy's first female combat pilots was killed in a training accident off Southern California last week _ a reminder of the hazards America's military men, and now increasingly its women, face even in peacetime.

The pilot, Lt. Kara Hultgreen, 29, of San Antonio, Texas, apparently lost control of her F-14 after an engine stalled as she prepared to land on the carrier Abraham Lincoln.

The radar-intercept officer ejected before the plane crashed in the sea and sank, and he was rescued.

If inequality and sexual harassment represented the old Navy _ a jury last week awarded $1.7-million to a female ex-officer who sued the hotel hosting the 1991 Tailhook convention of naval aviators _ Hultgreen represented the new.

As a member of the first class of women allowed to fly Navy combat jets after a ban was lifted last year, she faced intense scrutiny from one of the military's last all-male bastions: carrier-based fighter pilots.

But her flying skills and one-of-the-guys demeanor impressed many, and she was tapped for duty in the fighter plane Tom Cruise made famous in the movie Top Gun._

The New York Times

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