Around the worldCURRENCY: China announced Wednesday it was scrapping its dual-track foreign exchange rate system for a single, unified rate that would be based on market factors. The move, which will take effect Saturday, is part of the currency reforms China is undertaking to gain entry into the GATT international trade organization.

RELIGIOUS WOES: Around-the-clock police guards were posted Wednesday outside the Davao City's 20 mosques to prevent any more reprisals following the weekend bombing at a Roman Catholic cathedral that killed seven people in this Philippine city. Meanwhile, an American businessman apparently was kidnapped Tuesday night in Davao, but police were unsure if his disappearance was related to the city's religious troubles.VOW: Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa says he will clear up Japan's political, economic and administrative ills. Amid the worst recession since World World II and impatience over his failure to pass political reform legislation so far, Hosogawa says he has tried to wipe away uncertainty and bring about a bright future.

Across the nationLAWSUIT: Promoters of Michael Jackson's canceled "Dangerous" world tour are suing him for more than $20 million, claiming an addiction to morphine and other drugs destroyed his ability to perform. Jackson bowed out of the 43-venue tour Nov. 11 during its Mexico City leg, admitting an addiction to prescription painkillers. He sought treatment at an undisclosed location, apparently in Europe.

BAN: Massachusetts has abolished a religious exemption to its child abuse laws that a Christian Science couple used to fight charges they refused medical treatment for their dying son. The bill signed into law Tuesday by Gov. William Weld also made Massachusetts the last state to make child abuse a felony.

In Washington

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NEW RULES: Beginning in July, makers of dietary supplements will have to provide hard evidence for any health claims their products make, under rules released Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration. But makers of supplements that contain folic acid may immediately begin telling consumers that the nutrient reduces the risk of certain birth defects when taken in the first weeks of pregnancy, the FDA said.

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