News Currents

GULF AND MIDDLE EAST

Kurdish rebels said March 19 they have seized most of the major northern Iraqi oil town of Kirkuk. Operations to mop up the remaining loyalist forces in the town were still going on, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan told Reuters in Damascus March 19.... Growing turmoil in Iraq has delayed the release of thousands of Kuwaitis detained by Saddam Hussein's regime, Kuwaiti Crown Prince Saad Al-Sabah told a US congressional delegation March 18.

UNITED STATES

Embattled Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates released March 19 transcripts of conversations between officers during and after a brutal videotaped attack on an unarmed black man, and they indicated relaxed banter and even a jocular tone among the officers.... The Supreme Court March 18 agreed to decide if prayer as an official part of a public school graduation violates the constitutional separation of church and state.... The court also let stand a decision against a "nonsectarian" Bible study in a pu blic elementary school during school hours, even when attendance is voluntary and it is led by unpaid community members.... Corporate drug testing jumped 22 percent last year, but the tests showed only half the rate of abuse they did in 1989, a nationwide survey issued March 18 by the American Management Association said.... The Treasury Department said March 18 it will ask Congress this week to allow the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to borrow up to $25 billion to bail out ailing banks.

AFRICA

Rwandan rebels have signed a cease-fire with the African country's government in a peace move brokered by Zaire. The truce, to begin five days after the signing, is to be followed by a general amnesty and direct negotiations.... South Africa's government March 19 announced indemnity and amnesty for 40 anti-apartheid and right-wing prisoners. The release will bring to 310 the number of convicted political prisoners released so far under apartheid reform.... The judge in the trial of Winnie Mandela March 19 gave provisional approval to prosecutors to present evidence about two more alleged incidents of kidnapping and assault.

LATIN AMERICA

Spain has joined forces with three Latin American countries to help El Salvador's rightist government and left-wing rebels end their 11-year-old civil war, Spanish Foreign Minister Francisco Fern 135>ndez Ord 151> 150>ez said in Managua March 18.... Colombia's drug barons have threatened to begin a new terror campaign by placing 2,200-pound bombs in Colombia's main cities for each one of their members killed or tortured by the military or police.... The Mexican government March 18 ordered the closing an old oil refinery in the Valley of Mexico to fight growing pollution in the nation's capital.

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