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MISSISSIPPI GOV. Kirk Fordice was improving from a near-fatal car wreck but still was in serious condition Thursday and unable to talk. "He's out of the life-threatening stage," said Dr. Keith Thomae, the governor's physician . . . A CANCER-STRICKEN Chinese dissident released from prison less than two weeks before a visit by Secretary of State Warren Christopher is defying official requests that he seek medical treatment abroad, his sister said Thursday. Prison authorities on Wednesday paroled Chen Ziming, who was serving a 13-year sentence for instigating the 1989 pro-democracy Tiananmen Square demonstrations . . . A BOAT CAUGHT in swift floodwaters capsized on a small river in central Vietnam, killing seven of 32 schoolchildren on board . . . AN EXPLOSION in Alpoca, W.Va., rocked an ammunition recycling plant and leaked 150 to 200 gallons of a chemical that injured at least 14 people.