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ASSISTANCE: Nearly 500 U.S. troops will join Salvadoran military units in the building of rural schools and medical clinics in war-scarred El Salvador, U.S. officials said Friday. Col. Rudy Jones, commander of the U.S. Military Group stationed in El Salvador, said the program was aimed at "assisting in the reconstruction of El Salvador" in the wake of the Central American nation's 12-year civil war.TOWER: A system of lead counterweights at the base of Italy's Tower of Pisa has apparently reversed some of the tower's famous lean. Michele Jamiolkowski, leading expert on an international commission charged with trying to halt the relentless tilt, said Friday that tons of lead bars placed around the base this month have yielded an "encouraging" result.

VILLA'S SON: Jose Trinidad Villa Casas, the last surviving son of Mexico's legendary revolutionary general "Pancho" Villa, has died in an apparent suicide. He was 78. Villa Casas was found dead on the floor of his office in Tlalnepantla, a Mexico City suburb.

Across the nation

SHUTTLE: NASA has postponed Discovery's satellite-delivery mission for a third time to avoid the annual Perseids meteor shower, which astronomers say could be the most spectacular such event in 130 years. NASA spokesman James Harts-field said shuttle managers put off Discovery's launch, scheduled for Wednesday, until at least Aug. 12.

DEATH: A second patient among four people given the wrong medicine at a veterans hospital in Omaha, Neb., has died, the hospital said Friday. Leland E. Goodnight, 76, of Stanton, Iowa, died Thursday after lapsing into coma July 8, when he received a muscle relaxant instead of an antibiotic.

CONVICTED: A Baltimore mother of seven was found guilty Friday of murdering six of her children by setting their home on fire. Prosecutors said Tonya Lucas, 29, set the fire to cover up the abuse of one of her children, 1-year-old Gregory Cook, and to receive aid from relief agencies because she was facing eviction.

In Washington

FOOD STAMPS: Some 27.27 million people received food stamps in May, a drop from the record high set in March but still much higher than last year when participation in the program began to climb, the Agriculture Department reported Friday. In May 1992, participation totaled 25.69 million.