News In Brief

Yugoslav Communist Party leader Stipe Suvar says the party's Central Committee may hold a vote of confidence in the ruling Politburo amid deepening ethnic divisions and renewed worker unrest. Mr. Suvar was speaking in a television interview hours after 3,000 workers demonstrated before the parliament building in Belgrade to demand pay raises, direct representation in parliament, and the resignation of the federal government.

Bush aide spurred release of hostage, Iranian claims

Former hostage Mithileshwar Singh arrived in West Germany yesterday after 20 months of captivity in Lebanon. A former President of Iran, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, claimed that Mr. Singh's release was negotiated by an aide to Vice-President George Bush named Richard Lawless and that Iran received arms - possibly in a deal to free him. In response, a campaign spokeswoman for Mr. Bush termed the remarks ``absolutely false.''

Rescue copter crashes over flooded French city

A helicopter used in rescue operations in this severely flooded southern city crashed Tuesday, killing two men and bringing the total number of deaths to 10. The helicopter was carrying experts flown in to prevent pollution of the city's water supplies, cut off after a freak storm dumped eight inches of water in three hours.

Soviets say US backing Afghan rebels in attacks

The Soviet Communist Party accused the US of spending $2 billion supporting Muslim guerrillas in an ``undeclared war'' against Afghanistan as 26 rebel rockets crashed into Kabul yesterday, killing 13 people. The Communist Party newspaper Pravda said the US had continued to supply guerrillas fighting the Soviet-backed Kabul government in defiance of the April Geneva accords, which pledged an end to outside interference in the country.

US reports higher prices from drought; no gouging

Some food prices climbed above levels explainable by the summer drought but no widespread price gouging of grocery shoppers has been found thus far, congressional investigators said yesterday. Pasta, cereal, and white bread prices rose more between June and August than they did in the same period last year, the General Accounting Office said.

The fierce summer heat and dire shortage of rainfall wrought some of its worst damage in the northern Grain Belt where durum wheat used in the manufacture of pasta is produced.

US regulators increase estimate on S&L cleanup

Federal regulators estimated yesterday that it will cost between $45 billion and $50 billion to clean up the ailing savings-and-loan industry, increasing earlier projections by more than a third. Yesterday M. Danny Wall, chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which regulates the nation's 3,000 S&Ls, revised his $31 billion figure upward to bring it in line with other government estimates.

Voters and police plentiful as Chile votes

Military ruler Augusto Pinochet threatened yesterday to crack down hard on any leftist violence as Chileans headed to the polls. Thousands of troops and police guarded polling stations. And soldiers in armored cars patrolled some poor districts as Chileans turned out early to place their votes.

The 7.4 million-strong electorate appeared to have heeded government and opposition calls to vote early and then go home to avoid potential violence. Long lines built up outside 1,000 polling stations around the country as they opened at 8 a.m. (7 a.m. Eastern time).

Officials said long lines were slowing the vote and might delay the count. Delays were also reported in opening some polling stations because of technical problems or late arrival of monitors.

Just hours before the plebiscite, saboteurs blew up power lines, briefly blacking out Santiago and a 1,000-mile strip of the country. No group claimed responsibility for the blasts. At press time, no further incidents had been reported.

General Pinochet is the sole candidate in the plebiscite, the first direct leadership vote since he took power at the head of a coup in 1973. On the ballot, the choice was between ``yes,'' to extend his rule, and ``no,'' to end it. If he wins the majority, Pinochet gains eight more years in office. If he loses, the Constitution says he must call for a multi-candidate election in December 1989.

Official returns are not expected until Friday.

Negotiators on Angola sit down in N.Y.

Negotiators from Angola, South Africa, and Cuba will try to build on recent progress when they sit down with US mediators in New York today. The countries are still trying to reach agreement on a withdrawal schedule for Cuban troops from Angola. This would clear the way for a South African pullout from and independence for Namibia.

There was substantial movement during four days of talks last week, informed sources say. Yet important differences among the parties remain. The key issue is not the length of the withdrawal. Rather, discussions are centered on how much ``front loading'' should be built into the agreement - specifically how many Cubans should leave early in the withdrawal process and at what intervals.

Parallel to these negotiations, there is movement in an effort by black African leaders to begin a national reconciliation process in Angola, ending the 13-year civil war there. On Saturday, the President of Angola sat down to discuss this issue for the first time with his counterparts from Gabon and the Congo. Previously, Angola has rebuffed efforts to bring about a reconciliation with UNITA anti-government guerrillas, arguing the conflict is an internal matter.

The meeting was reportedly aimed at preparing the way for a summit of African leaders in Zambia, now scheduled for next week. It is not yet clear that the African leaders will be able to develop a real mediation process between the government of Angola and UNITA. The government still publicly opposes any negotiations with its domestic opponents.

For the record

South Africa's pro-government Citizen newspaper said yesterday that African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela could be freed from prison anytime after mid-November. Honduras called on Tuesday for the establishment of a UN force to prevent its borders with El Salvador and Nicaragua from being used by insurgents from those countries.

Supporters of a bill to impose tougher restrictions on textile imports, after failing to override President Reagan's veto, promise to renew their efforts when Congress returns next year.

PTL's trustee M.C. (Red) Benton has accepted a $115 million bid from a Jewish Canadian businessman for the Christian ministry's assets, Jim Bakker's former empire.

CorrectionCorrection for 9/22/88 and 8/30/88

Because of an editing error, a Sept. 22 article on the South Pacific Forum identified Ieremeia Tabai as a resident of Kiribati. Mr. Tabai is actually the President of Kiribati. A Sept. 30 article about dormitory policy changes at Boston University misidentified Warren Binford. Also a statement by senior Lizzy Friedman was incorrectly attributed to Ms. Binford. The statement was, ``If we let them break our spirit this time, where are they going to stop?''

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