News In Brief

Democrats controlling the House voted 150 to 25 yesterday to reject a Senate plan to provide some $16 million in lethal and nonlethal aid to the Nicaraguan contras, but said they would compromise on the issue. The Senate proposal, which was lumped into a $606 billion spending bill for government activities through September, was designed to continue aid through February. In other action, a House-Senate conference committee has agreed to grant Pakistan a 2-year waiver of the Symington amendment, which will allow a renewal of US aid to that country, congressional sources said yesterday.

Eastern Japan hit by severe quake

A major earthquake shook eastern Japan Thursday morning, causing buildings to collapse and roads to crack. At least two deaths and 53 injuries have been reported. The earthquake's magnitude of 6.6 on the Richter scale was the highest one in the area in 37 years.

US stands by in Gulf, unable to aid burning ship

One of the largest US warships in the Gulf stood by yesterday as Iranian gunboats raked a merchant vessel with cannon fire after setting it ablaze, shipping sources said. The US ship was prevented by the Pentagon's rules of engagement from protecting the burning craft, because it did not fly the American flag.

6 Lebanese Arabs killed by Israelis and militia

Israeli soldiers and allied Lebanese militiamen killed six Arab guerrillas in a gun battle early yesterday in south Lebanon, police said. Separately, a US congressional committee investigating the Iran-contra affair yesterday released White House notes which said for the first time that Vice-President Bush supported an attempt to free American hostages being held in Lebanon by selling arms to Iran.

Sudanese disclose talks held secretly with rebels

The Khartoum government had secret peace talks in London earlier this month with representatives of the rebel army fighting in southern Sudan, official sources said yesterday. The talks were the first known contacts since July last year between Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Army. No details of the meeting were available at press time.

Uruguayans urge a vote to block officer amnesty

More than 630,000 Uruguayans have petitioned for a nationwide vote to remove an amnesty that was granted to military officers charged with human rights violations, spokesmen for a referendum campaign said. Human rights activists said it would be the first time in Latin American history that an entire nation would vote on whether to punish former military rulers for crimes.

338 Mafiosi convicted, including 19 top leaders

The jury in Italy's biggest Mafia trial convicted a total of 338 of the 456 defendants of crimes traced to a Mafia commission that has masterminded the slayings of police officers, judges, politicians, and others challenging the crime syndicate in the last decade. Prosecutors said 19 of the men, who received life sentences, were members of the Mafia's ``cupola,'' or commission, the top of a pyramid-like command structure.

US ends moratorium on chemical weapons

The US has ended an 18-year moratorium on production of chemical weapons and is filling canisters for an artillery shell which would spread toxic nerve gas over targets, the Pentagon said yesterday. Officials also stressed that while the canisters are being produced under authorization from President Reagan and Congress, the US is actively discussing a chemical weapons ban with the Soviet Union and other countries.

Airport security tightened on employees of airlines

The Federal Aviation Administration, responding to criticism of lax security at major airports, ordered airlines yesterday to require all employees, including uniformed flight crews, to pass through airport security checkpoints.

For the record

Sen. Robert Dole moved to endorse President Reagan's arms control treaty yesterday, even as he was hit by fresh defections from his campaign over his delay in backing the pact. The US economy grew at a 4.3 percent annual rate over the summer, as higher-than-expected consumer spending helped offset a deteriorating trade performance, the government said yesterday.

Haiti's top presidential candidates proposed Wednesday that the military-dominated junta step down in favor of a civilian-led government that would steer the country to free elections.

A Bhopal judge yesterday ordered Union Carbide Corporation to pay $270 million in interim relief to the victims of the world's worst industrial accident.

President Joaquim Chissano, battling a 12-year-old insurgency that has tied up Mozambique's economy, announced an amnesty yesterday for rebels who lay down their arms.

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