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Wednesday, September 1, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Daily Briefing

Daily Briefing

Update

-- Nearly a year after Swissair Flight 111 crashed into the sea off Nova Scotia, relatives of the victims have traveled to the fishing villages near the crash site for memorial ceremonies.

-- Four days after surgery to repair her mine-shredded left front foot, the elephant Motola stood up today without aid on her three good feet. "She is doing remarkably well," said Worakorn Jitlang of the Hang Chat Elephant Hospital in Thailand.

Upcoming

The official spokesman on language issues for the new Welsh Assembly plans to take language lessons. The subject: Welsh.

English-born Tom Middlehurst, who moved to Wales in 1971, has been widely criticized for his inability to speak the native tongue. Starting today, learning Welsh will be compulsory for all schoolchildren up to age 16.

People

-- Singapore swore in its new president today. S.R. Nathan is a 75-year-old diplomat backed by the island republic's powerful senior minister, Lee Kuan Yew. Nathan was named president last month without an election after would-be candidates failed to meet strict government criteria.

-- The Dutch palace press office refused to comment today on reports that Crown Prince Willem Alexander, 32, the eldest son of Queen Beatrix, was getting engaged to Argentine beauty Maxima Zorreguieta, daughter of a minister in that nation's former military government.

Today in history

-- In 1923, 140,000 people died in an earthquake that devastated Tokyo and Yokohama in Japan.

-- In 1969, a coup in Libya brought Moammar Gadhafi to power.

-- In 1972, American Bobby Fischer won the international chess crown in Reykjavik, Iceland, defeating Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union.

-- In 1983, 269 people were killed when a Korean Air Lines Boeing 747 was shot down by a Soviet jet fighter after the airliner entered Soviet airspace.

P.S.

An Italian doctor claims to have discovered the secret to Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile: a compulsive gnashing of teeth.

Dr. Filippo Surano says he believes the noblewoman in Leonardo Da Vinci's famous portrait suffered from bruxism, an unconscious habit of grinding the teeth during sleep or periods of mental stress.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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