News Currents

LEGISLATION Before adjourning for the year early Wednesday, Congress passed a $14.7 billion deficit reduction package and repealed catastrophic health care coverage for the elderly. On Tuesday, President Bush signed a series of bills, including a $286 billion military spending measure, a bill to guarantee reparations to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II, a ban on smoking during most airline flights, and spending bills for agriculture, labor, health, and education.

ECONOMY

Industry observers say US toymakers likely will see mediocre holiday sales, but they expect business to be a bit better than last year. New York Telephone Company and striking workers appeared Wednesday to be near a settlement of the 15-week-old walkout. Thousands of employees of The Boeing Corporation returned to work Wednesday after settling a 48-day strike.

JUSTICE

Former presidential press secretary James Brady, wounded in the 1981 attack on President Reagan, said Tuesday Congress has been ``gutless'' on gun control. He was testifying in favor of a seven-day waiting period before handgun purchases. Five blacks in Boston have filed a class-action lawsuit in state court against a city police stop-and-search policy they say is unconstitutional. Police are using the search in efforts against street gangs. National drug policy director William Bennett has named five regions as major drug trafficking areas. The Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and Houston areas and parts of the southwestern border will be eligible for extra federal aid. The Georgia Supreme Court Tuesday said a quadriplegic man has a constitutional right to withdraw from the breathing apparatus he has been using for four years.

LATIN AMERICA

The US Episcopal Church's presiding bishop, Edmond Browning, said Tuesday that the Bush administration should change its Latin America policy in reponse to killings and arrests of church workers in El Salvador. Nicaragua may call for a meeting of Central American presidents following the breakdown Tuesday of cease-fire talks between the Sandinistas and contra rebels. The Colombian military says 112 leftist insurgents and 22 government troops have been killed in November clashes.

EUROPE

In Prague, Czechoslovakian leaders have called a Communist Party Central Committee meeting for today to discuss street protests and demands for reform. In the Soviet Union, the Communist Party chiefs of Moscow and Leningrad, Lev Zaikov and Anatoly Gerasimov, were fired this week in moves aimed at increasing party popularity before March elections. Mr. Zaikov, who was replaced by Yuri Prokofyev, was named deputy chief of the Soviet defense council. Hungarian Premier Miklos Nemeth said Tuesday that Hungary's true foreign debt is $20 billion, $3 billion more than previously reported.

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