News Currents

MIDDLE EAST

President Elias Hrawi appointed Rashid al-Solh as Lebanon's new prime minister yesterday to form a Syrian-backed government. Solh, a lawyer, was last prime minister in 1975 at the start of Lebanon's 15-year civil war. Diplomats said Syrian President Hafez al-Assad privately endorsed Solh for the job and that the government needs to end corruption in the civil service, show some independence from Damascus, and restore popular confidence in Lebanon's postwar future. UNITED STATES

Strong sales of automobiles and building supplies boosted retail sales by 0.9 percent in April, after a 1 percent decline in March, the Commerce Department said yesterday.... The Justice Department will give Congress only a 24-page summary of a 700-page report on police brutality across the nation, CBS News reported Tuesday.... Apple Computer reportedly will soon unveil a hand-held computer that reads handwriting, sends faxes, and can exchange data with other computers by remote control. EUROPE AND ASIA

Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk dealt a blow to this week's commonwealth summit by saying he would stay away. During his recent visit to the US, he denounced Russia's assumption of the role as successor state of the Soviet Union.... Russia plans to tax virtually all imports to cut the volume and close a gap in the balance of payments, Economics Minister Pyotr Aven was quoted as saying yesterday.... Thousands of Japanese marched through Okinawa yesterday to demand the withdrawal of US troops from the island two days ahead of the 20th anniversary of its return from US to Japanese rule.

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