News In Brief

Thousands of armed troops patrolled the capital yesterday on the eve of the first summit in 10 years of Southeast Asian leaders. Meanwhile, Communist rebels said yesterday they were considering a Christmas truce and hinted they would wind down their street war in Manila, which has claimed 100 lives this year.

In another development, a Philippine Airlines plane with 15 people aboard vanished yesterday on a domestic flight to Mindanao island.

Budget process moves to final stages in Congress

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Senate approval Saturday of a record $606 billion catchall spending bill, including new nonmilitary aid to Nicaragua's contra rebels, finally moves this year's legislative budget struggles into the last round. The money package, which was passed by the Senate 72-21, has now been approved in different versions by both the House and Senate. It covers virtually all the government's spending priorities for fiscal 1988. In combination with a tax and entitlement bill that is moving in tandem, it would enact the first year of the two-year, $76 billion deficit-reduction agreement between President Reagan and Congress.

Haiti's military junta picks new election council

A new Electoral Council, handpicked by Haiti's military-dominated junta, was sworn in Saturday and pledged to hold elections on Jan. 17. The junta dissolved the old council on Nov. 29 after assailants killed at least 34 people and aborted what would have been Haiti's first free elections in 30 years. The four major presidential candidates have said they won't participate in junta-run elections.

In another development, night marauders shot and firebombed the home of Guy Bauduy, a for the National Assembly early yesterday.

OPEC struggles to settle oil price, production level

OPEC struggled yesterday to settle final details of an oil price and production pact. The 13 members had planned to ratify a tentative agreement to retain a price of $18 a barrel and not cut production levels. But yesterday the oil minister of Gabon said OPEC was worried the international market would not see the prospective accord as credible.

Rare civil unrest reported in Romania

Dissidents set gasoline-soaked tires afire at the base of Bucharest's statue of Lenin in a rare protest in this tightly controlled communist capital, diplomats said Saturday. The diplomats said the Romanian Communist Party today will begin its first conference in five years, with the leaders expected to discuss the nation's food and energy shortages that have sparked protests.

Belgium's ruling coalition expected to lose majority

Prime Minister Wilfried Martens's four-party coalition was expected to lose its parliamentary majority after Belgians voted in general elections yesterday. Mr. Martens called the elections on Oct. 19, the day his coalition of Christian Democrats and Conservatives collapsed over a linguistic dispute. Each party in the coalition is split into two - a Dutch-speaking and a French-speaking party.

Bangladeshi strike moves into its 13th day

An opposition-led general strike slowed transport and commerce in Bangladesh Saturday. It was the 13th day of stoppages since Nov. 10 when 21 opposition parties launched a national campaign aimed at forcing the resignation of President Hossain Muhammad Ershad.

In other affairs, the government expelled a British Broadcasting Corporation reporter and said it is closing the BBC operation in Dacca.

Florida drops services tax, raises sales levy

Gov. Bob Martinez signed into law a bill Friday repealing Florida's unpopular services tax. The legislation also enacts a $1 billion increase in the sales tax on goods to replace revenue lost by the repeal. Under the new law, the 5 percent tax on many services will end Jan. 1 and the sales tax will climb 1 percent to 6 percent on Feb. 1. The extra penny is expected to bring in $1.2 billion.

Report says harassment of journalists on the rise

The number of countries that harass or harm journalists and their print and broadcast plants has been steadily increasing, according to a report by Freedom House, an organization which monitors international political rights and civil liberties. The report said an estimated 188 journalists were arrested, 10 kidnapped, and 51 expelled from countries from which they were reporting.

ABM bickering over, Shultz says

The Reagan administration is through arguing with Congress over rules governing ``star wars'' testing and development and will begin making case-by-case funding requests for missile defense programs, Secretary of State Shultz said yesterday. The White House has sought a ``broad'' interpretation of the 1972 Antiballistic Missile treaty, permitting wider testing and development of space-based defensive weapons. Opponents in Congress, however, believe the ABM Treaty limits the administration's Strategic Defense Initiative, and Congress has banned any tests through Sept. 30, 1988.

At a news conference in Copenhagen, where he is meeting with Scandinavian allies, Mr. Shultz also criticized the idea of a nuclear-free zone in the Baltic and urged Denmark to increase spending on defense.

In response to Shultz's comments, Sen. Sam Nunn (D) of Georgia, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, yesterday warned the Reagan administration not to rely on separate requests to Congress to finance its missile defense program. ``That would be the best case for the Soviet Union and the worst case for us. said Senator Nunn on ABC-TV's ``This Week With David Brinkley.'' But Sen. John Warner (R) of Virginia, who is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, welcomed the administration's plan as realistic.

President Reagan said Saturday that persistent Soviet efforts to restrict SDI testing still threaten prospects for reductions in long-range nuclear missiles. (See related story, Page 11.)

Separately, a new Gallup poll has found that 74 percent of Americans approve of the way President Reagan is conducting US-Soviet relations, and 73 percent want the Senate to approve the newly signed INF treaty, Newsweek magazine said Saturday.

For the record

Govan Mbeki, recently freed African National Congress leader, was ordered by the South African government not to leave his hometown or speak to journalists. The Senate voted 94-0 Friday to approve President Reagan's nomination of Ann Dore McLaughlin as Labor Secretary.

A South Yemeni court Saturday sentenced toppled President Ali Nasser Mohammed and 34 of his ministers and senior officers to death after a year-long trial.

CorrectionCorrection for 12/10/87

In last Thursday's Monitor, an item on the News-in-Brief page said a World Hunger Year Media award was sponsored by the late performer and humanitarian Harry Chapin. While World Hunger Year Inc. was founded by Mr. Chapin, the awards are sponsored by singer Kenny Rogers and his wife, Marianne.

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