Tea Party Search Now Shipshape

Two-hundred-year-old artifacts are fine, but a sunken warship is more his cup of tea, says an underseas explorer who's giving up his search for artifacts from the Boston Tea Party to hunt a Revolutionary War ship. Maritime explorer Barry Clifford says he has videotape and sonar images of what could be a 100-foot-long British ship at the bottom of Boston Harbor. "It seems to be intact. It's all under the mud," he said. "Based on the historical documentation we have, the British sank a ship in exactly the location where we found this." Clifford is seeking a permit for exclusive rights to search one nautical square mile of Boston Harbor for artifacts from both the Boston Tea Party of Dec. 16, 1773, and the American Revolution. Last year, the state Board of Underwater Archaelogical Resources postponed a decision on the permit, requesting that Clifford provide more detailed evidence of the artifacts, and he was scheduled to appear before the board again today. Clifford believes the ship discovered off Long Wharf is one of 13 that sank in the harbor on Evacuation Day, when British soldiers fled Boston. "Rather than let the equipment fall into the hands of Americans, they sunk the boats," Clifford said.

--Deposed Paraguayan dictator Gen. Alfredo Stroessner is now considering the United States for his next home and has requested a U.S. visa. "The general has made clear his intention to live in the United States to Brazilian authorities," said a Brazilian Foreign Ministry official. There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials. Stroessner, 76, received political asylum from Brazil on Feb. 5, two days after he was overthrown in a bloody coup. Stroessner is staying at his beachfront home in the southern state of Parana.

--Bringing a little public pressure to bear in the matter of some unpaid bills, a luxury goods store in Geneva issued a statement revealing that two relatives of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd owe the store nearly $500,000 for bad checks. "We now have to consider the affair as attempted theft," the administrative director of the Hassan store, Martine Khobaich-Gautier, said in the statement. "Punishment for that sort of thing is particularly severe in Saudi Arabia as thieves have a hand cut off under Koranic law." The problem started when longtime Hassan customers Princess Noura Bint Abdulaziz and Prince Khalid ibn Yazid bought some jewelry and leather goods in 1985, paying with checks from an empty account, the store said. Store officials made three trips to Saudi Arabia to try to collect the money, which amounted to $460,000 at the 1985 exchange rate but would be $630,000 now.

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