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The nation in brief

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 31, 2000

Will aiding Miami kin is subject of hearing

SHAWNEE, Okla. -- Attorneys agreed Monday that a woman who left half of her $500,000 estate to Elian Gonzalez's Miami relatives had mental problems, but disagreed on whether that's enough to void her will.

A hearing began Monday on an attempt by Anne Katherine Abernathy's family to have her will thrown out. In a rambling will written hours before her July suicide, Abernathy disinherited her relatives and left her estate to the Gonzalezes and the Amiraults, a Massachusetts family who had been accused of child molestation.

Attorney B.C. Harris, who represents Abernathy's family, said: "She had insane delusions that there was a conspiracy to get her, led by the CIA, the FBI and foreign interests. She believed that young children were being trained by Nazis."

Drug for irritable bowel syndrome linked to deaths

WASHINGTON -- Five women reportedly died after using a popular new treatment for irritable bowel syndrome that can cause severe intestinal side effects, Food and Drug Administration records show.

FDA officials cautioned that it's too early to know if the drug Lotronex was to blame, or if other illnesses contributed to or caused those deaths. But the agency is investigating Lotronex's safety, even as a consumer advocate renewed calls Monday for the drug to be banned.

Lotronex is the first new therapy in decades for irritable bowel syndrome, a mysterious disorder that affects up to 15 percent of Americans, mostly women. IBS involves chronic or recurrent abdominal pain, the sudden and urgent need to go to the bathroom and either frequent diarrhea, constipation or both. Lotronex offers modest relief to women whose main IBS problem is diarrhea. It doesn't work for men.

Philadelphia averts teachers' strike

PHILADELPHIA -- A weekend teachers' strike ended with a tentative agreement before dawn Monday, just in time for classes to continue without interruption for more than 210,000 students.

"I think it's a great deal for the union, for the children of this city, for the future of this city," Mayor John Street said Monday.

Both sides officially withheld details until the new contract is ratified.

Gunman kills 3, hurts 1, then kills himself

TELLICO PLAINS, Tenn. -- A construction worker upset over a failed relationship opened fire in a mobile home park Monday, killing his girlfriend and two others and critically wounding a fourth person before fatally shooting himself, police said.

With a gun in each hand, 60-year-old Cleo Colvin began shooting after he discovered Mary Presley, 41, moving out of their mobile home with the help of three men, neighbors said.

Kissinger leaves hospital after heart attack

NEW YORK -- Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was released from a hospital Monday, about a week after suffering a heart attack.

Kissinger, 77, had entered New York Weill-Cornell Medical Center on Wednesday after suffering what a hospital spokeswoman called "a limited heart attack." He had undergone bypass surgery in 1982. He was secretary of state in the Nixon and Ford administrations.

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