CALIFORNIA EARTHQUAKE The US House of Representatives approved $2.85 billion in federal earthquake relief Oct. 24; the Senate was expected to act Oct. 25. The confirmed number of deaths from the quake now stands at 63, with about 3,000 injured. The area was struck by an aftershock Oct. 24 which measured 4.5 on the Richter scale.
In Washington, a federal judge ruled Oct. 24 that Iran-contra defendant John Poindexter, former President Reagan's national security adviser, may subpoena some document from his ex-boss, but not from President Bush. Congress's General Accounting Office says in a report that the Energy Department may need to spend $8 million to fix flawed tubes at the Savannah River nuclear weapons plant. Television preacher Jim Bakker spent the night in a federal prison after being sentenced to 45 years in prison and fined $500,00 on fraud and conspiracy charges.
Arab mediators have called upon the Lebanese parliament to meet in Beirut in two weeks to approve a peace pact worked out by deputies meeting in Saudi Arabia. But Christian army chief Michel Aoun and his supporters have vowed to prevent the meeting. Kidnappers holding at least two Americans in Lebanon have again offered to release them in exchange for 15 Shiite Muslims jailed in Kuwait. Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens has agreed in principle to a US plan for Mideast talks if the Palestinian Liberation Organization is excluded and the agenda is limited to discussion of elections to be held on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.
The Soviet parliament Oct. 24 voted to eliminate special reserved seats for the Communist Party in national and local elections. President Mikhail Gorbachev Oct. 25 began economic talks in Finland. In Warsaw, Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze promised Poles that Moscow will continue fuel deliveries crucial to Poland's economy, and Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki said that he will visit Moscow next month. The Washington Post reported Oct. 25 that the Soviets have promised US Defense Secretary Richard Cheney that they will cut tank production by one-half for the next five years.
In Seoul, South Korea has agreed to buy 120 jet fighters from the United States at a cost of $2 million. Defense Ministry officials said they have not yet decided which model to purchase. The commander of US naval forces in the Philippines said Oct. 24 that Washington is willing to share the Subic Bay naval base and Clark airfield with the Philippines military. Talks on the idea will begin in December. Cambodian government troops Oct. 25 counterattacked noncommunist Cambodian guerrillas after being pushed backed near the strategic town of Svay Chek, according to guerrilla and Thai military sources.