News Currents

ECONOMY AND BUSINESSThe United States economy grew at a 2.4 percent annual rate during the July-September third quarter, the Commerce Department said Oct. 29, officially ending a year of recession. But worry is mounting at the White House and among businessmen that the budding recovery is already stalling out. Financial markets are speculating that policymakers soon must cut interest rates again to try to spur consumer spending and keep modest growth alive.... The Soviet republics have signed an agreement on repaying the Kr emlin's foreign debt of about $68 billion. Some delegates said if the Baltic states did not participate in the accord, the signature of the powerful Ukraine would be anulled.... The Ukrainian parliament voted in principle Oct. 29 to close the Chernobyl atomic power station, scene of the world's worst nuclear disaster five years ago, in 1993.... Toshiba Corporation and C. Itoh and Co. said Oct. 29 that they will invest $1 billion for a combined 12.5 percent stake in Time Warner Inc., a US media giant saddled with multibillion-dollar debt. The Japanese firms will form a partnership with the US firm, possibly as early as April 1992. Time Warner is active in movie and television production and distribution, cable system operations, and cable programming.

MIDDLE EAST With tourism rising more than 20 percent a year in the Persian Gulf region, the Marriott Corporation is scheduled to open a 235-room hotel in Dubai next year as part of a worldwide plan to redirect its hotel sites from an overcrowded US hotel market.... Kuwait plans to recap on Nov. 5 the last well blown up by the Iraqis. The emirate has invited Gulf Arab and foreign oil ministers to attend a ceremony for the occasion.... The Muslim group Hizbullah-Palestine claimed responsibility Oct. 29 for an ambush i n the Israeli-occupied West Bank in which two Jewish settlers were killed and five wounded. The pro-Iranian guerrillas also killed two Israeli soldiers in a bomb attack in south Lebanon Oct. 29.

UNITED STATES Alaska Gov. Walter Hickel, just back from a weeklong trip to Japan and South Korea to promote a proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline, faced sharp criticism Oct. 28 from environmentalists and the oil industry for his efforts. Hickel - part owner of Yukon Pacific Corporation, the Anchorage-based company trying to build the $11 billion gas line that would move gas for shipment to Asia - brushed off charges that his promotion of the 800-mile gas line is an abuse of Alaska's top office for private gain .... The US Senate agreed Oct. 29 to vote on the nomination of Robert Gates as director of central intelligence on Nov. 5.... Oliver North asserted Oct. 29 that the special prosecutor in the Iran-contra affair, Lawrence Walsh, was aiming to bring criminal charges against President Bush. North has been compelled to testify before the grand jury handing up indictments in the affair.

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