News Currents

WAR IN THE GULF Iraq has halted fuel oil supplies to the public, Baghdad radio announced Feb. 5.... Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, US commander in the Persian Gulf, said in a Feb. 3 interview that he was determined not to rush into a ground confrontation, but placed top priority on minimizing loss of human life. There was no sign yet of Iraq's elite Republican Guards, dug in on the Kuwait-Iraq border, cracking, but coalition forces have destroyed at least 300 of Iraq's estimated 4,500 tanks and 350 other military vehicles, US military spokesmen said.... The US battleship Missouri silenced Iraqi artillery guns in occupied Kuwait Feb. 5 when it opened fire for the second day running in the Gulf war, American military officers said.... Responding to an Iranian offer to mediate the conflict, a US State Department spokeswoman asked, ``What's to mediate?''

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

In Sudan, the military government decreed a federal system, dividing the largest country in Africa into nine states as part of an effort to end seven years of civil war. State-run television said the ruling military council, headed by Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, passed the decreed Monday.... South Africa's African National Congress agreed in watershed talks with the rival Pan Africanist Congress to mount a common front against the nation's apartheid system.

ENVIRONMENT

The drought-ridden state of California halted water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley farmers via the State Water Project Feb. 4, and warned city dwellers in southern California to expect only half the normal amount.... In Washington, delegates from 130 nations began negotiations Feb. 4 on a new international pact to limit emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect.

EUROPE AND ASIA

In Italy, the new party which hopes to inherit the votes of 10 million communists was left leaderless and deeply split Feb. 4. Achille Occhetto, the last Italian Communist Party leader and the man who masterminded its break with communism, said he would not stand for office again after failing to win election as head of the new Democratic Party of the Left.... Burma's military government outlawed the political party headed by arrested former Prime Minister U Nu, Rangoon radio reported Feb. 5. He was Burma's first and last democratically elected leader.

ECONOMY AND BUSINESS

US automaker General Motors Corporation said Feb. 4 that it would cut 15,000 jobs over the next two years and slash the dividend it pays to shareholders by nearly half.... Hills Department Stores Inc., the No. 5 US discount retailer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing debt burdens.

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