News In Brief
Moscow — The Soviet news agency Tass swiftly condemned the explosion of a hydrogen bomb in the Nevada desert Saturday, calling the test of US space-defense technology ``an evil New Year present.'' The US Department of Energy said a hydrogen bomb with a payload equal to 150,000 tons of TNT was detonated underground about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The test was part of Strategic Defense Initiative research into the feasibility of harnessing a bomb's X-ray emissions for a powerful antimissile laser.
Rebels launch rockets against Afghan garrisons
Muslim rebels rocketed four Soviet-backed Afghan army garrisons near the border with Pakistan on Friday to mark the sixth anniversary of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, exiles in Peshawar said yesterday. Meanwhile, Afghanistan accused Pakistan of trying to block a settlement to the war by refusing to negotiate directly in UN-sponsored peace talks.
A sixth round of the talks, aimed at achieving the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and the return of about 4.5 million Afghan refugees, ended inconclusively on Dec. 20.
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NSA seeks ways to protect noncritical government data
The National Security Agency, in an effort to thwart potential espionage, is beginning research into ways to encode most of the messages sent each year by agencies of the federal government and defense contractors, according to the New York Times. Today encoding is done routinely only by US law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the Department of Defense, and the State Department.
The NSA's new program would extend encoding to other agencies as a means of protecting financial, contracting, and technical information from unauthorized access.
Military courts sentence more than 200 in Pakistan
Pakistan's military courts have sentenced more than 200 people to long jail terms and stiff fines in a rush of activity before they are abolished with the expected lifting of martial law today. And in Islamabad, parliamentarians said they believed President Muhammad Zia ul-Haq will announce an end to 81/2 years of martial law today, but newspapers said he may impose a state of emergency.
46 are charged in deaths during Philippines protest
A joint military and civilian fact-finding committee recommended Saturday that a mayor and 45 soldiers be charged with murder in connection with the deaths of 20 demonstrators killed during a human rights protest. The demonstrators were killed Sept. 20 in Escalante on Negros Island when soldiers opened fire on more than 5,000 people, mostly farmers, protesting human rights violations under the rule of President Ferdinand Marcos.
Reagan and Gorbachev to give New Year's messages
President Reagan will deliver a taped New Year's Day message on Soviet television and a similiar message from Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will be offered to the American networks, the White House said over the weekend. In Moscow, the Soviet minister of civil aviation announced that direct air service between the Soviet Union and the United States will begin April 27 for the first time in more than four years.
Iranians reportedly decide to abandon Kharg Island
Shipping sources said yesterday that Iran plans to abandon battered Kharg Island as its main oil terminal because of repeated Iraqi air raids. And the Iranian navy seized the Danish ship ``Hornland'' in the Gulf of Oman Saturday, after spotting five crates of explosives intended for Iraq aboard the vessel.
Wife's second phone call to Sakharov is interrupted
Soviet dissident Yelena Bonner made a second telephone call Saturday to her husband in the Soviet Union, dissident physicist Andrei Sakharov, but again their conversation was interrupted by static, believed by Mrs. Bonner's family to be deliberate jamming by the Soviet secret police. Her family said Bonner, who is staying with her family in this Boston suburb, would try to place another call on Jan. 11.
Mali claims it has attacked four towns in Burkina Faso
Trouble in West Africa along the borders between Mali and Burkina Faso continued yesterday, with Mali claiming its Air Force had attacked four towns deep inside Burkina Faso. Report of the attacks came as a cease-fire was to have gone into effect.
A statement said the raids were in reprisal for an air attack by Burkina Faso on the Malian town of Sikasso four days ago in which four people, all civilians, were killed and four others wounded.
Gifts to late Yugoslav leader ruled to be property of state
The Yugoslav parliament, in a move to block an inheritance claim by the widow of the late Josip Broz Tito, legislated Friday night that all gifts presented the communist leader as a token of esteem were public property. Tito's third wife Jovanka, estranged at the time of his death in 1980, filed a claim worth an estimated millions of dollars for Tito's property and goods received while he was in public office.
Unions and textile firms lead Washington lobbying efforts
Preservation of major income tax deductions and protection of US textiles accounted for the greatest concentration of the millions of dollars lobbyists spent trying to influence Congress in 1985. Topping the most recent spending list issued by the House clerk's office was the Coalition Against Double Taxation Inc., an alliance of labor unions that reported third-quarter lobbying outlays of $649,477.
Third in line was the Fiber, Fabric and Apparel Coalition for Trade, reporting third-quarter outlays of $484,622 on behalf of legislation to restrict textile imports.
Egyptian policeman found guilty in deaths of Israelis
A military court found Egyptian police Sgt. Suleiman Khater guilty Saturday of the Oct. 5 killings of seven Israeli tourists in the Sinai peninsula and sentenced him to life in prison at hard labor, his lawyer said.
From sail to steam, wood to steel, and now. . .computers
The US Naval Academy will require all freshmen to have their own computers beginning in the fall of 1988. According to academy officials, by the fall of 1987, every freshman dormitory room will have one personal computer for use by two or three plebes. The following year all new students will be required to get their own.
Theft of Mexican art objects may be biggest art heist ever
Mexico's Christmas Day robbery at the National Anthropology Museum, in which 173 pre-Columbian art objects were stolen, may prove to be the biggest art theft in history, judicial sources said Sunday. The sources told reporters the Mayan and Aztec Indian artifacts in the museum were essentially priceless but that estimates by foreign collectors suggested they could have fetched up to $200 million had they been sold legally.