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HILARY ROXESTREAK ENDED. CAL RIPKEN JR.,38, durable Baltimore Orioles third baseman and two-time American League Most Valuable Player, after 2,632 consecutive games since 1982; in Baltimore, Maryland. After a 1994 baseball strike canceled the World Series and cast players as spoiled and overpaid, Ripken's devoted diligence helped restore faith in the American pastime the following year as he broke Lou Gehrig's longstanding mark of 2,130 games. Ripken chose to end his run at a home game against the New York Yankees because, as he put it, the time is right.DIED. FLORENCE GRIFFITH JOYNER,38, American sprinter whose impressive race times were rivaled only by her outlandish running outfits; in Mission Viejo, California. At the Seoul Olympics in 1988, FloJo, famed for her 15-cm sculpted nails and one-legged bodysuits that she designed herself, shattered world records in both the 100-m and 200-m events, stunning the track community and raising suspicions over performance-enhancing drugs that, although never substantiated, have endured as long as her records.DIED. KONGULU MOBUTU,28, son of the late deposed Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, of unknown causes; in Monaco. When his father was chased from the country in May 1997, Mobutu, an officer in the Presidential Guard who was nicknamed Saddam Hussein by his countrymen, remained in Kinshasa with plans to hunt down and kill those who had abandoned his father. One day later, however, he chose to flee from the country.KILLED. OTAKHON LATIFI,62, Islamic opposition figure and instrumental participant in efforts to implement peace in the strife-ridden Central Asian republic of Tajikistan, by unknown gunmen; in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The former journalist, exiled in 1992 as his homeland was embroiled in civil war, served as a chief arbitrator in the three-year talks that hammered out a peace agreement between the hard-line Tajik government and its Islamic-led opposition. When an accord was reached last year, he returned to the former Soviet state to serve on the Reconciliation Commission working for national stability.FREED. CAMILLA CARR,40, andJON JAMES,38, British aid workers seized in the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya, after 14 months in captivity; in Grozny, Chechnya. The pair, working for a Quaker-funded organization to help children traumatized by the country's long war, were seized from Grozny, the capital, on July 4 last year. Publicity campaigns in Britain failed to secure their release, but after the intervention of Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who is reported to have paid large ransoms to free other hostages in the region, Carr and James flew out with Berezovsky on his plane to Moscow.FOUND.Remains ofTAMARA TANIA BUNKE,Argentine guerrilla companion of Ernesto Che Guevara during his ill-fated 1967 quest to incite a social revolution in Bolivia; in Vallegrande, Bolivia. The German-language teacher met Guevara in Cuba and moved to Bolivia shortly thereafter to lay the groundwork for the campaign. Called La Guerrillera as the sole female member of Guevara's forces, Bunke was shot to death in an army ambush in 1967. Legend has it that she was a German intelligence agent and that she had been pregnant with Guevara's child.Is it tragedy, comedy or both? We asked our panel of distinguished authors to compare someone from the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal to a character from literature:DIANE WOOD MIDDLEBROOK, author of Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton: Ovid's Metamorphoses portrays gods as politicians. When the philandering Jove puts on a bull suit so he can seduce Europa, a nubile rustic princess, the poem is mocking the Emperor Augustus. Amorousness is incompatible with Majesty, Ovid notes.HAROLD BLOOM, author of Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human: Kenneth Starr combines the meddling propensities of the eternal busybody, Polonius, with the relentless monomania of the pyromaniac Iago. The judge contrives to appear more like Polonius, but his essence is pure Iago: he lives to ruin Clinton, as Iago's diabolic drive was to bring down Othello.JANE SMILEY, author of The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton: The Scarlet Letter asks whether the public exposure of private passion heals or harms those who are exposed and those who do the exposing. Hester Prynne, exposed early, is matured by her ordeal. Roger Chillingworth, vengeful and cold, is rendered inhuman. Clinton reminds me of Hester.