News In Brief

South African inflation has soared to its highest level in 65 years and economists yesterday voiced fears about the impact of price increases on the beleaguered economy. The extent of the inflation rate rise announced yesterday -- to an annualized 18.45 percent in December, from just under 17 percent in November -- took many economists by surprise.

High court says US may try 4 Indian leaders in old case

The US Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 yesterday that the federal government may prosecute Indian leader Dennis Banks and three others on 11-year-old charges of transporting firearms and dynamite. The court said the four were not denied a speedy trial, overturning a ruling that threw out the charges.

3 US-Soviet couples reunited as USSR lets husbands leave

Three Soviet men were reunited yesterday with their American wives after years of Kremlin-imposed separation. Two of the Soviets joined their spouses Monday night at Newark International Airport after arriving on the same flight with the third couple, who were reunited a day earlier in West Germany.

AT&T long-distance rates in for a cut, FCC chief says

AT&T long-distance rates will probably be forced down by about 5 percent in June and may be reduced an additional 17 percent over the next three or four years, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday. AT&T rate reductions are almost always matched by similar price cuts by long-distance competitors such as MCI and Sprint.

Bank of America is fined $4.75 million on cash shifts

The government levied a record $4.75 million penalty yesterday against Bank of America, the country's second-largest bank, for failing to report large currency transactions as required by law. The Treasury Department said the bank had committed more than 17,000 violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires banks to report all cash transactions above $10,000.

Pentagon to report decline in use of marijuana by GIs

A new Pentagon drug-use survey, when completed next month, will show a continuing decline in the number of active-duty men and women using marijuana, officials said Tuesday.

5 alleged mob leaders found guilty of casino skimming

Five alleged organized crime leaders, including the reputed boss of Chicago crime, were convicted yesterday of skimming gambling proceeds from Las Vegas, Nev., casinos. The defendants were charged with conspiracy and traveling in interstate commerce to carry out the skimming plan. Skimming is the illegal diversion of profits before taxes are collected.

They face penalties of 40 years in prison and $80,000 in fines.

Mrs. Bonner allowed to go home from the hospital

Soviet dissident Yelena Bonner has been allowed to return to her daughter's home, a week after undergoing heart surgery in Boston, her family said. Mrs. Bonner's doctor said she was recovering well from the operation, but certain complications may require her family to seek an extension of her visa, due to expire in March.

News helicopter crashes on way to packers' strike

A helicopter carrying an ABC News reporter and producer crashed yesterday on a trip to Austin, Minn., to cover the Hormel meatpackers' strike, officials said. A state patrolman said it didn't appear that either person or the helicopter's pilot survived.

There were no further details at press time.

Comparable worth advances for Washington State jobs

The Washington State Senate has voted 30 to 16 to ratify an agreement to pay $484.5 million to make comparable state jobs pay equally. The measure needs only to be ratified by the state House and the courts to put more money in nearly 35,000 workers' paychecks.

Bonn unwilling to join US in sanctions against Libya

The West German government appeared unmoved yesterday by the suggestions of US Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead for helping Washington bring the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Qaddafi, to heel. A spokesman for the foreign minister said that while Bonn is willing to join in coordinated action against terrorism, it still does not believe that economic sanctions are a suitable weapon.

Mr. Whitehead suggested that West Germany reduce or stop the import of Libyan oil, suspend commercial air links with Libya, and stop selling it advanced technical equipment.

1,600 US journalists apply to leave their marks in space

Applications from journalists hoping to fly aboard the space shuttle, including one from former CBS anchor man Walter Cronkite, topped the 1,600 mark yesterday, according to a spokesman at the University of South Carolina' journalism and mass communications offices. The spokesman said an application was even received from a cartoonist, who enclosed a cartoon as his second essay.

The finalist and a backup will be announced April 17.

O'Neill vows to put '87 budget to vote

Charging that it is time for President Reagan to suffer some ``hard knocks,'' House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. pledged Tuesday to bring the administration's budget for fiscal 1987 to a vote. Mr. O'Neill suggested that dramatic budget cuts in many domestic programs advocated by the Reagan administration will make it more difficult for Republicans to hold onto their Senate majority in the 1986 elections.

The Democratic strategy will be to focus on the ``dark side'' of budget reductions, an aide to O'Neill said.

The aide added that President Reagan had been the ``emperor of ice cream on tax cuts'' and that now Democrats want to put the spotlight on the Reagan budget cutbacks.

The reductions are necessary to meet the federal deficit-reduction schedule mandated by the Gramm-Rudman act.

Meanwhile, the comptroller general sent to President Reagan yesterday his final list of $11.7 billion in budget cuts that must be carried out under Gramm-Rudman.

The final list includes an additional $44.6 million in defense spending cuts, and $3.3 million more in domestic spending cuts, because the comptroller general did not agree with the White House Office of Management and Budget and General Accounting Office about whether specific accounts could be cut.

Overall, the final list confirms that, on March 1, 4.3 percent will be cut from domestic agency budgets and 4.9 percent from military programs not protected from the cuts.

The comptroller's list, under the law, must be carried out by President Reagan -- a provision the administration contends is unconstitutional.

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