News In Brief

Authorities have discovered that 20 more villages tucked away in the mountains of Armenia were seriously damaged by last week's earthquake, while 150 looters have been arrested, Soviet news media said yesterday. The official Tass news agency did not explain why the damaged villages had only now been discovered. But it said that communications had not yet been restored to rural areas.

Vietnam gives remains of possible MIAs to US

Vietnam yesterday gave a US military team 38 sets of remains said to be those of missing American servicemen in the largest such repatriation since the Vietnam war ended, a US spokesman said. An Army laboratory will determine if the remains belong to any of the 1,747 Americans listed as missing in action, or MIA, in Vietnam.

Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, quoted unidentified Vietnamese sources as saying Vietnam has agreed to accept more US teams to conduct searches.

Gorbachev goes for youth in picking military chief

The Soviet Union announced yesterday the appointment of Col. Gen. Mikhail Moiseyev as the new armed forces chief of staff. General Moiseyev replaces Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, whose retirement was announced by Soviet officials in New York Dec. 7. Moiseyev's previous post was as Red Army commander in the Far East. The appointment of a relatively young general as chief of staff over several more senior officers appeared to signal the determination of Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev to bring new faces into the military leadership.

Police arrest suspect in Palme assassination

Police say they have arrested a Swede with a long record of violent crime on suspicion of killing Prime Minister Olof Palme. Prosecutors said the man, whose name was withheld under standard regulations, has denied assassinating Mr. Palme. He was arrested Wednesday and, after questioning, was booked ``on suspicion of having committed the murder,'' Deputy Prosecutor-General Axel Morath said.

Israel convicts an 'emigr'e for spying for the Soviets

A Soviet e'migr'e with close links to Israeli politicians and Army officers was convicted yesterday of spying for the Soviet Union and sentenced to nine years in prison, his attorney said. Shabtai Kalmanovich was convicted in a closed Tel Aviv district courtroom of espionage and having contacts with a foreign agent, the attorney, Amnon Zichroni, said. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

The trial had been held behind closed doors since Sept. 5. No details were given of Mr. Kalmanovich's spying activities.

Indian Parliament agrees to lower the voting age

India's lower house of Parliament yesterday unanimously agreed to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 and passed a new law to prevent electoral fraud. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi told members that lowering the voting age, still to be endorsed by the upper house, would add 50 million voters to India's voting population of 420 million.

The bill to crack down on election rigging was controversial, with opposition politicians saying it was not tough enough to crack down on fraud.

Canada to Quebec: signs can't be in French only

The Supreme Court yesterday ruled against a Quebec law forbidding languages other than French on commercial signs. The court's 5-to-0 ruling allows Quebec to order French on signs but cannot prevent other languages from being used as well. The court found that the law requiring commercial signs only in French violated the guarantees of freedom of expression provided in the Quebec charter.

Activist Haitian priest expelled by his order

A Roman Catholic order said yesterday it had expelled an activist priest in Haiti whom it accused of instigating violence and exalting class warfare. But the Rev. Jean Bertrand Aristide defied the move, and a spokesman for the Salesian order said he is still on the island. Fr. Aristide has led calls for an uprooting of the vestiges of the former regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier, who was overthrown in 1986. In September, Aristide was the apparent object of a violent attack on his church by thugs linked to the ousted regime.

Postal worker surrenders after hostage drama

A mail handler shot three co-workers in the main New Orleans post office, then holed up in the building for 13 hours with a hostage, firing birdshot at random from under a door yesterday, authorities said. The gunman, Warren Murphy, surrendered later yesterday morning after all-night telephone negotiations with FBI agents and police.

None of those hit by birdshot had life-threatening wounds, hospital officials said. The hostage appeared unhurt, according to an FBI spokeswoman.

Let-them-burn line OK'd for natural US forest fires

The federal policy of allowing naturally ignited forest fires to burn under prescribed conditions is basically sound, say federal officials charged with reviewing the management of last summer's Western US forest fires. A report released yesterday by officials of the US Agriculture and Interior Departments said, however, that specific management policies need to be ``refined, strengthened, and reaffirmed.''

The study recommends that no natural fires be allowed to burn until a full review of fire policy is complete.

Two Salvadoran mayors quit after leftist threats

Two mayors of El Salvador's ruling Christian Democrat Party resigned Wednesday after receiving death threats from the country's leftist rebels. H'ector Arevalo, mayor of Santa Clara, east of the capital, said he had been threatened by Farabundo Mart'i National Liberation Front (FMLN) rebels.

Meanwhile, Francisco Bonilla, mayor of San Ildefonso, which is also east of San Salvador, said he recently received a threatening letter from the FMLN. Both mayors took office after elections held in March.

For the record

Four Cuban refugees in prison for committing crimes in the US were to be deported, the second such action this month, the Justice Department said yesterday. Hurricane-force winds wreaked havoc across northern California yesterday, overturning trucks, toppling trees, and cutting power to more than 300,000 customers.

Eastern Airlines will not be further investigated for its financial fitness, the US Transportation Department said Wednesday. The department denied a request from the airline's unions.

ClarificationCorrection for 12/15/88

An article in yesterday's Monitor on a television special on the Green River serial killings near Seattle did not report the correct number of telephone calls on crime tips received. Initial reports said 60,000 calls were made, but investigators later said they answered no more than 7,660 calls.

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