News In Brief

Egypt, suspicious of a Libyan role in the pirating of an Egyptair jet, put its military on alert Sunday and sent commandos to Malta, where hijackers were holding the plane, security and diplomatic sources said. The Egyptair Boeing 737 with about 100 people aboard was hijacked to Malta Saturday by an estimated three gunmen while on a flight from Athens, Greece, to Cairo. Three Americans were reported aboard.

In Malta, the hijackers told negotiators they had killed seven passengers and threatened to shoot more unless Maltese authorities agreed to refuel the plane. Maltese government spokesman Paul Mifsud confirmed that one passenger, a woman in her 20s of undetermined nationality, had been killed and her body tossed from the plane.

Cairo Radio said the hijackers threatened to blow up the plane if anyone approached. The Egyptian sources, who spoke on condition they not be identified, said four armed Egyptian security agents in plain clothes were on board the plane.

Egyptian officials said the gunmen had identified themselves as members of ``Egypt's Revolutionaries.'' A group using a similar name claimed responsibility for the Aug. 20 assassination of an Israeli diplomat in Cairo and the June 1984 shooting of another Israeli envoy here.

A statement to a Western news agency issued after the August attack claimed the group included disgruntled military personnel who felt the Egyptian army should be shifted from the border with Libya to face Israel ``where the real enemy is.''

Security sources said they believed the hijackers were linked to Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddifi, Egypt's neighbor and archrival. Egyptian officials have accused Libya of sabotage plots, including the June 1984 mining of the Red Sea, a planned air attack on Egypt's Aswan Dam, and an attempt to blow up the US Embassy in Cairo this year.

US Senate passes farm bill after agreement on subsidies

The Senate passed a 1985 farm bill Saturday after farm-state Democrats and Senate Republican leaders agreed on provisions to soften future income subsidy cuts by giving farmers government surplus commodities. The agreement that paved the way for final passage would put income subsidies for corn, rice, and cotton farmers on a downward path through 1989, a major policy goal of the Reagan administration.

The plan would also freeze the subsidy rates at current levels next year, cutting them by up to 5 percent in each of the three following years.

The bill now must go to a House-Senate negotiating conference after Congress returns from its Thanksgiving-week break. The House previously passed its version of the farm bill.

S. African opposition leader Mandela remains in prison

Authorities moved Nelson Mandela from his hospital bed back into prison Saturday, ending speculation the black leader would be freed as a gesture to help end 15 months of anti-apartheid violence.

And a senior official of the African National Congress, head- quartered in Zambia, called for greater world pressure on South Africa to release Mr. Mandela, imprisoned for life since a 1964 conviction of planning acts of sabotage against the white minority government.

President P. W. Botha offered in January to free Mandela if he renounced violence. Mandela declined.

Company offers insurance against terrorist incidents

``Terrorist protection'' insurance, including $1 million rewards in case of murder or serious injury during a kidnap, is being offered by a San Francisco-based investment group. Clients, usually business people with international dealings, are given photo identification cards warning -- in English, Arabic and Spanish -- that the insurance company will pay a $100,000 reward for the capture or punishment of the kidnappers if they fail to release the policy-holder within five hours.

The reward goes up to $1 million in the event of death or serious injury.

French agents sentenced for sinking Greenpeace ship

New Zealand's chief justice imposed 10-year prison terms Friday on the two French secret service agents charged with the bombing of the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrier, and the death of a crew member. The Rainbow Warrior was sunk at its mooring in Auckland harbor on July 10 while preparing to lead a protest flotilla to Mururoa atoll, the French nuclear testing site in the South Pacific.

Students want Gorbachev to speak at commencement

Petitions signed by 500 Stanford University students in the 1986 graduating class say they want Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to deliver their commencement speech. The petitions delivered to the school president Friday represent about a third of the members of the class. Petitions will be circulated through Thanksgiving.

A representative at the Soviet Embassy was ``quite excited about the idea'' when contacted by students, one of the organizers said.

Cocaine bust in Northeast topples big drug ring

The largest cocaine seizure in the northeastern US, totaling nearly 1,500 pounds of the drug, lead to the arrests of 27 people and toppled a family-run Colombian drug ring as powerful as any US organized-crime family, authorities said Saturday. The cocaine, worth an estimated $600 million, was confiscated Friday in New York. Other raids were conducted in New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and Florida, where the ringleader was arrested, authorities said.

Moscow agrees to resume direct flights with US

The Soviet Union announced Saturday that it had agreed with the United States to resume direct flights between the two countries next April for the first time since 1981. A brief announcement by the official news agency Tass said the agreement would cover four flights a week by each side, with the Soviet carrier Aeroflot flying from Moscow to New York and Washington, and Pan American World Airways serving Moscow and Leningrad from New York.

Khomeini's future successor named in Iran

Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri has been chosen as the future leader of Iran in the event of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Saturday.

Ayatollah Montazeri, a prominent theologian, holds no official position in the current Islamic regime in Tehran. He has always been considered the heir-apparent to the 86-year-old Khomeini.

Oregon commune's property is up for sale, mayor says

US disciples of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, faced with debts, legal problems, and the departure of their guru and chief moneymaker, say they are selling out and moving on. Swami Prem Niren, the Rajneeshpuram mayor, said Friday night that the commune's property, Rancho Rajneesh, is up for sale.

As reasons for disbandment, he cited the recent criminal investions of the commune and the return to India of the group's leader, who plead guilty to charges of federal immigration fraud on Nov. 14.

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