News Currents

EUROPE In the Soviet Union, Lithuanian Communists were expected to vote Dec. 20 to break with Moscow and form a separate party. In Prague, playwright Vaclav Havel Dec. 19 won the backing of Communist Prime Minister Marian Calfa for his presidential candidacy. In London, a government official Dec. 19 refused to comment on reports that two Iranian students being deported for ``national security'' reasons were plotting to kill author Salmon Rushdie. The British House of Commons Dec. 19 approved the controversial policy of forcibly returning Vietnamese boat people from Hong Kong. About 650,000 Yugoslav workers struck for half an hour Dec. 20 to protest 2,000 percent inflation and the government's new economic recovery plan. Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth resigned from the Socialist Party Presidium Dec. 20 after it failed to support his draft budget.

FAMINE

A senior foreign relief official has told Reuters that Ethiopia is facing a new famine. The acting head of the US foreign aid agency also recently said that Ethiopia may face a disaster rivaling that of 1984-85, when 1 million died of starvation. Ethiopia has rejected a UN World Food Program estimate that 4 million people in the war-ravaged north could need food aid next year. In Rome, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization said Dec. 20 that the 1980s were a ``lost decade'' for development in undeveloped countries of Africa and Latin America. The FAO's year-end report also warned of famine in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa.

UNITED STATES

Investigators now suspect race may be the motivation behind bombs that killed a federal judge in Alabama and a Savannah, Ga., city councilman, and two others mailed to an Atlanta courthouse and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People office in Jacksonville, Fla. President Bush Dec. 19 approved the launch of three US-built satellites on Chinese rockets, setting aside economic sanctions put in place after the Tiananmen Square massacre. A federal judge Dec. 19 upheld a law permitting the closing of a series of military bases. The law's procedures had been challenged by a federal-employee union. The erupting Redoubt volcano in Alaska has forced airlines to indefinitely postpone flights from Anchorage and other airports. The Postal Service Dec. 19 got the mail moving again by switching to old airplanes with piston-driven engines.

LATIN AMERICA

A senior US official said Dec. 19 that the guerrilla offensive in El Salvador has failed in its objective to create a general uprising in the cities. Grenadan Prime Minister Herbert Blaize died Dec. 19 after a lengthy illness. Deputy Prime Minister Ben Jones will serve until Parliament names a succesor. The leaders of Guatemala and Belize will meet early next year to try to settle a longstanding territorial dispute. Guatemala claims sovereignty over Belize, which was called British Honduras before independence in 1981.

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