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Operators' racket foiled, Australia phone firm says

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Australia's telephone company, Telecom Australia, said yesterday it had smashed a multimillion-dollar overseas call racket involving its own operators. Investigators for the company and federal police swooped down on operators across the country with search warrants after a year-long investigation, Telecom's chief investigator, Peter Lester, said.

The operators had allegedly been paid to place free overseas calls for more than 100 of Telecom's customers, he said in a statement.

Indecent programming OK in wee hours: FCC

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday told radio and television broadcasters that they may air indecent programming between midnight and 6 a.m. without fear of FCC action. The FCC established the time period in response to petitions seeking clarification of the agency's new standards for indecent programming. But the commission did little else to change its April ruling.

European central banks cut interest

European central banks lowered interest rates yesterday in an orchestrated effort to stimulate the West European economy and stop the erosion of the dollar's value. The coordinated move by banks in West Germany, France, and the Netherlands came four days after Washington announced a budget deficit reduction agreement that had been eagerly awaited by its foreign trading partners.

Yesterday's action boosted the dollar sharply on foreign-exchange markets and helped fuel rallies in the US and European stock markets. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average had climbed 40.29 points to 1,963.36 at mid-afternoon.

Separately, gross national product, the total value of goods and services, grew 4.1 percent between July and September, the US Commerce Department said, revising the figure upward from the 3.8 percent rate it estimated a month ago.

The US trade deficit widened fractionally to a record $39.83 billion in the third quarter of the year, the department said. The deficit in the second quarter was $39.56 billion.

For the record

Kenya yesterday reversed deportation orders against a Canadian and eight American missionaries accused of plotting with the Ku Klux Klan to topple Kenya's government, the missionaries said. Czech officials have agreed to come to the Vatican for high-level meetings on tense church-state relations, which could lead to an agreement to fill some of the vacant bishoprics, Vatican sources said yesterday.

Two leading IRA gunmen who escaped from Northern Ireland's top security jail four years ago have been caught in a Anglo-Irish arms hunt, police said yesterday.

Soviet Jewish dissident Iosif Begun obtained an exit visa to leave for Israel yesterday.

CorrectionCorrection for 11/23/87

The Monitor reported Monday that conservative commentator Pat Buchanan said Vice-President George Bush and US Rep. Jack Kemp have ``cut a deal to make [Kemp] his running mate.'' Mr. Buchanan denies having made the statement, which was drawn from a report in the Presidential Campaign Hotline.