News In Brief

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl named Economics Minister Martin Bangemann to lead negotiations to give West German companies full access to US ``star wars'' research. The unexpected announcement of Mr. Bangemann's appointment was made a day before Mr. Kohl's Cabinet was to meet to formally approve negotiations for the defense program.

US payments balance fell near new low in 3rd quarter

The nation's balance of payments plummeted to a near-record deficit of $30.5 billion during the July-September quarter, pushing the country further into the status of a debtor nation, the government reported yesterday. This account measures not only trade in merchandise but also in services, mainly investment earnings.

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Also reported yesterday, housing construction dropped 12.2 percent in November, the steepest decline in six months, the Commerce Department said.

West Bank university closed to quash anti-Israel session

Israeli occupation authorities closed the Palestinian university of An-Najah in the West Bank city of Nablus Tuesday to prevent a symposium on armed struggle against Israel, military officials said. Officials said the move was taken after Israeli authorities repeatedly warned the university against holding meetings like the one planned for yesterday.

UN Council expected to OK call for all hostage releases

The Security Council is likely to give unanimous approval to a draft resolution with both US and Soviet support that calls for the release of all hostages, a Western diplomatic source said. The draft resolution marks the first time the Council has reached consensus the hostage issue, which has set off disagreements in the past over the justification for actions taken by so-called national liberation movements, the source said.

5 summoned in Philadelphia about ouster of black couple

Five people have been subpoenaed to appear tomorrow before a federal grand jury investigating arson at the former home of a black couple hounded out of a white neighborhood. The black couple, Charles Williams and Marietta Bloxon, moved out of the house late last month shortly after 400 whites chanted, ``Beat it'' and ``We want them out'' during a demonstration outside the house Nov. 20.

Ulster Protestants granted election that poses a protest

Northern Ireland Protestant parliamentarians yesterday won the right to wage a mini-general election early next year as a gesture of protest at a newly signed Anglo-Irish accord on the future of the province. The action followed the resignation of 15 Northern Ireland Protestant members of Parliament, most of them Monday night. Vinicio Cerezo

Guatemala's President-elect won't accede to US policy

Guatemalan President-elect Vinicio Cerezo said yesterday he looks to the United States as a partner in his country's democratic development, but he dissociated himself from American policy in Central America. Mr. Cerezo's government, which will take office Jan. 14, will pursue a policy of ``active neutrality'' toward Central America's conflicts and organize a forum to resolve differences without confrontation.

House backs ban on bullets that can pierce body armor

The House approved legislation yesterday that would ban the sale, manufacture, and importation of bullets that can penetrate a policeman's body armor. A compromise between the bill's sponsors and congressional supporters of the National Rifle Association enabled the House to pass the bill in a 200-to-41 vote before it went to the Senate.

Manufacture and importation -- but not sale -- of the bullets are already prohibited by voluntary agreements among the Treasury Department, manufacturers, and importers.

State party in India's Assam takes strong lead in voting

Elections in the northeast Indian state of Assam ended yesterday. Election officials in the state capital, Gauhati, said that with more than half of the vote counted for the 125 seats, the Assam People's Front was leading in 38 constituencies, Congress (I) in 20, and 22 were split between communists and tribal and immigrant parties.

Farm activists take over credit office in Minnesota

Members of the farm activist group Groundswell took over a Production Credit Association office Tuesday morning, vowing to remain until Gov. Rudy Perpich agreed to an immediate moratorium on farm mortgage foreclosures. The PCAs, which issue agricultural loans, are private, farmer-owned cooperatives regulated by the Farm Credit Administration in Washington.

Congress approves emergency spending

Congress approved a third emergency stopgap spending bill Tuesday, designed to keep many federal agencies afloat and prevent disruption of government services. Lawmakers criticized administration officials for failing to push for passage of a long-term $370 billion spending bill defeated Monday.

World Health Organization maps plans to contain AIDS

The World Health Organization has prepared a global strategy to try to stem the spread of the AIDS disease, officials said Tuesday. With almost 20,000 people worldwide reportedly afflicted, the plan focuses on improving information for health workers and education among high-risk groups such as homosexuals and intravenous drug abusers, they said.

Exiles in Paris say Iran has killed 165 prisoners

The dissident Iranian People's Mujahideen Organization said Tuesday that at least 165 Mujahideen political prisoners had been executed in Iran in the past month. The left-wing group, banned in Iran and based in Paris, also said in a statement that more than 500 prisoners had been killed since Iranian presidential elections in August.

Border commanders to hold S. Africa-Zimbabwe talks

South African and Zimbabwe Army commanders in the border area will hold urgent talks following the deaths of six whites in a guerrilla land-mine explosion, the military announced yesterday. Earlier, police reported that a mine with a timing device exploded Tuesday at a bus depot in Durban and police opened fired on rioters and arsonists in three Cape Province black townships, injuring two people.

Seewoosagur Rangoolam, Mauritian political leader

Sir Seewoosagur Rangoolam, who passed on here Tuesday, was former governor general of this Indian Ocean island and the first prime minister after independence from Britain was declared in 1968. Sir Seewoosagur, a powerful force in Mauritian politics for 50 years, was regarded by many as the father of independence.

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