News Currents

UNITED STATES A top aide to Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, Luis del Cid, pleaded innocent in US District Court in Miami on Dec. 26 to charges that he was an intermediary between Noriega and Colombian cocaine traffickers. Cold weather and fires at oil refineries in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Casper, Wyoming, and Sweeny, Texas, pushed heating-oil futures prices up by a record 11 cents on Dec. 26. Freezing weather also caused widespread damage to citrus and winter vegetable crops in Florida and Texas. A New York state appeals court has overturned the misdemeanor riot convictions of three young men in the Howard Beach racial killing and dismissed the indictments against them.

EASTERN EUROPE

The Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party recommended Dec. 26 that the party end its 45-year monopoly on power. The party will consider the proposal at its January congress in Belgrade. East Germany's deposed leader Erich Honecker was ousted after a clash with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in October in which he spurned Gorbachev's call for reform in East Germany, former politburo member Horst Sindermann said in an interview Dec. 27. Ousted Czechoslovak Communist Party reformist leader Alexander Dubcek has been chosen to receive the European Parliament's 1989 Andrei Sakharov Prize for defense of human rights.

ASIA

Vice Premier Yao Yilin, who helped steer China back toward more central planning, was replaced as head of the powerful State Planning Commission by technocrat Zou Jiahua, the official Xinhua News Agency announced Dec. 26. Khmer Rouge guerrillas said Dec. 26 that they have cut Cambodian government supply routes to the war-racked northwest. Officials of the Khmer Rouge's two non-communist allies said they may now try to aim for a full military victory. Afghan rebels unleashed fierce rocket barrages on Kabul Dec. 26, killing eight people and wounding six.

LATIN AMERICA

Seven inmates were killed and two guards wounded during a mutiny at Colombia's La Picota jail, which ended Dec. 26. Inmates were protesting the killing of Medell'in drug cartel lord Jos'e Gonzalo Rodr'iguez Gacha. Communist guerrillas set off bombs at two Mormon churches and a US cultural center in Chiclayo, Peru, Dec. 26. Two Nicaraguans were killed and four kidnapped, presumably by US-backed Contra rebels, in separate incidents over the past week, a defense ministry statement said Dec. 26.

MIDDLE EAST

Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories stayed at home Dec. 27 in support of a strike call by Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement. Jordan announced new steps on Dec. 26 toward scrapping martial law imposed since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the official news agency Petra said.

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