Around the world

GATT OK: The Philippine Senate on Wednesday ratified the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, making the country one of the latest economies to hop on the free-trade bandwagon. President Fidel Ramos hailed the passage of GATT and said it is crucial to the Philippines' attempts to sustain its developing economy, which grew by an average 5.5 percent in the first nine months of the year.DEFENSE: Japan and the United States will spend $90 million on joint defense research projects, including the development of advanced steel technology, ceramic vehicle engines and "eye-safe" lasers. The programs come under a U.S. strategy to rely more on commercially available technology in developing high-tech arms. Developing systems strictly for military use is considered more costly.

PANDA DIES: Fei Fei, a Chinese-born male giant panda kept at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, died early Wednesday of old age, officials said. Believed to have been the second oldest giant panda in captivity, Fei Fei's estimated age was 27. For a giant panda, this is equivalent to a human age of around 80 years. The panda was the second endangered species originating from China to die in Japan within two days. On Tuesday, Long Long, one of two rare crested ibis brought from China in a bid to breed the endangered bird, died suddenly at a preservation center on Sado Island off Niigata prefecture in the Sea of Japan.

Across the nation

FOUND: One of former presidential candidate George McGovern's daughters was found dead in the snow in Madison, Wis., and he said she'd suffered from alcoholism for years. "I think she was powerless to control it," McGovern said. "It isn't that she didn't try to overcome it. If you're not one of the few lucky ones who can control it, you die." Theresa J. McGovern, 45, presumably died of exposure, police said.

CAPTURED: Police captured a gunman who had taken about 40 students hostage at the State University of New York campus in Albany Wednesday morning. The man, armed with a rifle, had holed up in a basement lecture center. Police evacuated the center and surrounded it, then captured the man.