News Currents

MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS Iraq Jan. 15 marked the last day before the UN deadline requiring it to quit Kuwait or risk war with huge anti-American demonstrations. Meanwhile, in Washington, thousands of demonstrators converged on the White House after a candlelight march through the US capital (See stories, Pages 1 to 4, 8).... Iraq hinted that it had suicide pilots poised to strike allied warships and other targets in the Gulf region if it is attacked by the US-led forces.... Three Palestinian guerrilla chiefs, including the legendary Abu Iyad, were assassinated in Tunis in a major blow to the Palestine Liberation Organization. The killings, late Jan. 14, were blamed by Palestinian sources on a Libyan-supported group led by dissident guerrilla Abu Nidal.... Israel's high court ordered the military to begin distributing gas masks to Palestinians in Israel's occupied territories.

UNITED STATES

In Washington, Senate leaders outlined a priority agenda for the year, saying that the Gulf crisis cannot deter Congress from dealing with pressing needs at home. Priorities include energy, health care, and campaign finance reform.... The US Justice Department and the state of Alaska have reached agreement on how to pursue Exxon in court for damages caused by the March 1989 Valdez oil spill. Federal officials charged Exxon in US District Court with five criminal violations of environmental laws. Alaska has filed a civil suit in state court to collect damages and force the oil giant to restore the damaged environment.... Three British women and an American who entered a Nevada nuclear test site to try to stop a British underground test were convicted Jan. 14 of trespassing.

LATIN AMERICA

In Guatemala City, conservative Jorge Serrano was sworn in as president of Guatemala Jan. 14 in the nation's first transfer of power from one civilian elected leader to another.... The Argentine government announced the resignation of the eight-member Cabinet Jan. 14, freeing President Carlos Menem to reshuffle the ministerial posts.... Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello said in a nationwide address Jan. 14 a Persian Gulf war would bring economic disaster to many third-world countries.

WORLD OIL PRICES

The price of US crude oil briefly shot up almost $5 a barrel before settling at a gain of more than $3 a barrel Jan. 14. Oil prices would probably jump to between $40 and $50 a barrel if hostilities break out in the Gulf, but would quickly subside as oil was released from world reserves, industry and government analysts said.... The price of Mexican oil dropped sharply in December from November levels, the state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos said Jan. 14. The price Mexico's lightest crude fell to $27.28 a barrel in December for Western contracts from $32.51 a barrel in November.

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