News In Brief

South Africa ordered Los Angeles Times correspondent Michael Parks to leave the country, the fifth foreign reporter expelled since Pretoria imposed a nationwide state of emergency and tough media censorship in June. Mr. Parks was given until Dec. 31 to leave. The Home Affairs Ministry would not say why it did not renew his work permit. Meanwhile, thousands of black chemical industry workers went on strike yesterday to protest the decision to expel a union official. The government ordered the expulsion of British-born professor Phil Bonner and his wife, Christine, an official of the Chemical Workers' Industrial Union, Monday.

US says envoy's leaving not tied to airstrip dispute

Reagan administration officials say the resignation of the US ambassador to Costa Rica was not related to reports he tried to get that country to provide an airstrip for the contra supply operation. Lewis Tambs, the ambassador, submitted his resignation Monday for ``purely personal reasons,'' according to administration officials. According to a report published in Saturday's editions of the Washington Post, Mr. Tambs twice asked the Costa Rican government to allow a secret air operation to use a remote airstrip in northern Costa Rica to ferry arms to Nicaraguan rebels.

NBC president proposes a political-action panel

The president of NBC has proposed that the network form a political-action committee and said in a memorandum that ``employees who elect not to participate in a giving program of this type should question their own dedication to the company and their expectations.'' The memorandum, issued last week by network president James Wright outlining the proposal, has caused uneasiness among employees who believe it would be inappropriate for the network to support political candidates and causes, the New York Times reported in its Tuesday editions. Lawrence K. Grossman, the president of NBC News, said that there was ``no ambiguity'' about his opposition to the news division's participation in the program.

Top court makes it harder to repel business mergers

The Supreme Court, in a boost for business acquisitions, yesterday made it more difficult for companies to win lawsuits challenging mergers of their competitors. The justices stopped short of endorsing a Reagan administration position aimed at barring such lawsuits automatically, by a 6-to-2 vote in a case involving the meatpacking industry. A company invoking federal antitrust law to block a merger ``must show a threat of antitrust injury and ... a showing of loss or damage due merely to increased competition does not constitute such injury,'' said Justice William J. Brennan for the court.

UN arm OKs increase in budget of $50 million

The United Natons General Assembly's finance committee has approved a $50 million budget increase, despite objections from the United States, the Soviet Union, major financial contributors. The resolution to increase the budget was passed mainly with the votes of developing nations. The vote on Monday comes at a time that Secretary-General Javier P'erez de Cu'ellar is trying to cut costs to get through the 1986-87 budget year. The US Congress has cut support for the UN from its assessed level of $210 million, one-fourth of the budget, to $100 million in 1986-87.

Arabs protest closing of West Bank campus

Nearly 1,000 Arab students shouting slogans for the Palestine Liberation Organization yesterday protested Israel's closing of a Bir Zeit university campus, while Israeli troops wounded at least eight Arabs in demonstrations in the occupied Gaza Strip. Four Palestinians have been killed and 26 wounded in the last five days of unrest.

Austria is sending envoy back to Israel as gesture

Austria is sending its ambassador back to Israel to express its wish for good relations between the two countries, chancellor Franz Vranitzky said yesterday. The move was also designed to encourage a speedy decision by Israel on its future diplomatic representation in Vienna. Ambassador Otto Pleinert was recalled to Vienna in October amid strains after the June election of Kurt Waldheim as Austrian President. Israel withdrew its ambassador to Austria after the election.

Iran-contra update. Poindexter, North again silent

Two key former Reagan administration officials, Vice-Adm. John Poindexter and Lt. Col. Oliver North, cited their Fifth Amendment rights yesterday and ``regretfully and respectfully'' refused to answer questions before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about secret arms sales to Iran and the diversion of profits to the contras. Both men pledged to ``cooperate fully'' with investigations at a later date. As hearings went on in Congress, presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said the Reagan administration stuck by its assertion that Mr. Reagan did not approve an indirect arms shipment to Iran late last year, despite a contradictory account given by Robert McFarlane.

Testifying under oath Monday, Mr. McFarlane, former national-security adviser to Reagan, said the President gave his oral authorization in August 1985 for the indirect shipment of ``small levels of arms to Iran for the purpose of strengthening elements against terrorism.''

``I've interviewed a number of people and they don't recall that,'' Mr. Speakes said. He added, ``Recollections of meetings by different individuals may differ,'' but he would not say whether he had asked Reagan about his own recollection.

Speakes also said recent public comments by White House communications director Patrick Buchanan does not reflect the thinking of the White House. ``The President does not agree or condone the breaking of the law by any individual and he does not in any way believe that the president, whoever he might be, is above the law...,'' Speakes said.

In an article published in Monday's Washington Post, Mr. Buchanan compared North to Americans who broke the law for good cause, including the operators of the underground railway in the 19th century.

In other developments yesterday:

Secretary of State George Shultz, speaking to reporters on a flight to London, said that Central Intelligence Agency Director William Casey and Admiral Poindexter told him in December 1985 and again in May of this year that the United States had ceased shipping arms to Iran -- even though the airlift was still going on. In late May, McFarlane flew to Iran aboard a plane carrying US arms to Tehran.

Frank Carlucci, President Reagan's new national-security adviser, has appointed Lt. Gen. Colin L. Powell, a three-star Army general, as deputy director of the National Security Council, the New York Times reported. General Powell is a former senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and is one of the highest-ranking black officers in the military.

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