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NEWS CAPSULES

Around the world

IRAQ: About 500,000 Iraqi children have died since the Security Council imposed economic sanctions on Baghdad in 1990, a U.N. official in Iraq was quoted as saying Saturday. Thomas Ekfal, UNICEF representative in the Iraqi capital, warned that another 1.5 million youngsters could die if sanctions continue, Egypt's state-run Middle East News Agency reported.SOUTH KOREA: An expert on Korean unification was named prime minister on Saturday, signaling increased efforts to improve ties with North Korea. Lee Hong-koo takes the helm at a time when South Korea also must open its markets wider to foreign imports under a new global trade agreement.

TRADE PACT: The presidents of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay signed a protocol Saturday agreeing to common tariffs that go into effect Jan. 1. The Ouro Preto Protocol lists 9,000 goods that will have no tariffs in the four nations of the Southern Cone Common Market, or Mercosur, starting Jan. 1 and other products whose tariffs will gradually be dropped over the next decade.

Across the nation

LAWYER: A St. Paul, Minn., judge ruled that a law professor charged with assault can't have the lawyer he wants - his fiancee and alleged victim. Judge Salvador Rosas refused to let Jeanne Chacon represent Peter Erlinder, though she denies Erlinder assaulted her and accuses the city attorney's office of malicious prosecution. "There is no case," Chacon told the judge Friday. "I will fight."

CONCERT: A chorus of third-graders in Barrington, R.I., was not allowed to sing the word "Christ" during a holiday concert Friday after a parent complained it was offensive. The parent said the word Christ in the carol "Let the Sleigh Bells Ring" implies the divinity of Jesus and may offend non-Christians. The Primrose Hill School show included songs about Christmas and Hanukkah. Instead of singing "For Jesus Christ was born today," the students sang "For Jee-ee-sus was born today."

CROSS: A 10-foot Ku Klux Klan cross was erected in downtown Cincinnati early Saturday after U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens refused to block the display. Stevens denied without comment Friday a request by the Homeless Hotline of Greater Cincinnati to stop a group called the Knight Riders of the Ku Klux Klan from putting up the cross. Cincinnati police officials said no incidents occurred when the cross was erected before dawn.