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HANNAH BEECHRESIGNED. BILL SKATE, 46, corruption-tainted Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, carrying on a dubious tradition in which no leader of the South Pacific nation--which won independence in 1975--has served out a full term; in the capital, Port Moresby. Skate resigned two days after he controversially established diplomatic ties with Taiwan in defiance of rival China. Beijing has cried foul, alleging that the cash-strapped country demanded billions of dollars in loans from Taiwan in order to establish relations.RESIGNED. TOGO WEST JR., 57, embattled United States Veterans Affairs Secretary whose hefty globetrotting expenses raised government eyebrows; in Washington. As Army secretary in 1996, West deftly diffused sexual-harassment charges filed by female soldiers against military colleagues, but his inability to procure a fatter veterans budget drew bipartisan ire--especially since he signed off on widespread departmental layoffs while ordering a new Cadillac to whisk him around town.

NAMED. PATRICIA WALD, 70, veteran Washington federal appeals court judge, as part of the 14-member Yugoslav war crimes tribunal; in The Hague. Wald, who declined President Bill Clinton's nomination to become U.S. Attorney General in 1993, will help try suspected war criminals for the United Nations-sanctioned court, which critics say has received only lukewarm support from the international community since its inception in 1993.

DIED. JOAQUIN RODRIGO, 97, lyrical Spanish composer whose 1939 Concierto de Aranjuez ranks as one of the best-loved classical pieces of the 20th century; in Madrid. Rodrigo, who was blinded by diphtheria as a toddler, combined Moorish rhythms with haunting Spanish melodies to create a romantic composition that has been recorded by musicians ranging from jazz great Miles Davis to flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia.

DIED. SHAFIK WAZZAN, 74, former Lebanese Prime Minister who presided over the 1982 withdrawal of Palestinian guerrillas from Israeli-occupied Beirut; in Beirut. Thrust into office in 1980 as a compromise candidate after political bickering left Lebanon without a government for 137 days, Wazzan quickly waded into controversial territory, inviting a multinational peacekeeping force into Beirut in exchange for a Palestinian pullout and negotiating an ultimately unsuccessful deal in 1983 for an Israeli withdrawal.

DIED. C. WALTON LILLEHEI, 80, pioneering American surgeon who made medical history as the first physician to perform successful open-heart surgery; in St. Paul, Minnesota. The landmark 1952 operation involved chilling the patient's body for 19 hours and cutting off blood flow for five-and-a-half minutes while working inside the heart. Today some 2,000 similar surgeries are conducted every day.