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EX-PREMIER CONVICTED: In one of the final trials planned against former East German leaders, a state court has convicted the last Communist premier of rigging local elections in May 1989. Hans Modrow, a former municipal Communist boss, got a nine-month suspended sentence and a $3,600 fine Wednesday for inciting the falsification of balloting results in four districts around Dresden. Anger over the Dresden election fraud helped fuel the movement that led to the ouster of hard-line leader Erich Honecker five months later. The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, and Modrow headed a caretaker East German government until March 1990 elections.

KOREA: South Korea dispatched an official to Beijing Thursday in the hopes that North Korea would send someone to work on resolving the countries' latest quarrel. North Korea withdrew from talks that were to begin Thursday in Beijing after detaining a South Korean ship and its 21 crew members. It accused one of them of spying when he took photographs in the port of Chongjin. The talks were to be about South Korea's agreement to send free rice to its communist archenemy, which reportedly is suffering a severe food shortage. The ship detained on the spying allegations was carrying 5,000 tons of rice.

Across the nation

HIV TESTS: A Florida school district dropped voluntary HIV testing of high school students after receiving complaints that the program was inappropriate for schools. Parents, health professionals and a handful of students asked the Fort Myers school board Tuesday to end the program that began three years ago. The tests were offered in five of the county's eight high schools. "You have stepped over the line of being educators and moved into the role of a parent," parent Darlene Jurszinski told the board before its 4-1 vote. The program was described as the first time a public agency tested schoolchildren for the virus that causes AIDS. Parents had to sign permission slips, but students did not have to reveal the results.

TAINTED FOOD: Health inspectors in West Palm Beach, Fla., were trying to find the source of a salmonella outbreak that sickened 350 diners at a Mexican restaurant. Five had to be hospitalized. Some food may not have been cooked thoroughly enough to kill the salmonella bacteria, and they may have contaminated other foods, health officials said.