News In Brief

Efforts to restart cease-fire talks between Nicaragua and the contra rebels failed yesterday, and both sides prepared to leave. The Roman Catholic leader, Miguel Cardinal Obando y Bravo, had been mediating the talks, which broke off yesterday after both sides disagreed adamantly on the issue of face-to-face negotiations. Both sides pledged to respect the truce called for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Sandinistas proposed that a third round of talks be held in January.

Reagan expected to sign bill to cut S. Africa credit

The Senate gave final legislative approval yesterday to a bill that would eliminate foreign tax credits for US companies operating in South Africa. President Reagan was expected to sign the legislation, which was passed late Monday by the House of Representatives.

The attack on the apartheid policies in South Africa was included in a bill to raise $23 billion in new taxes and cut federal spending so as to pare $76 billion from the US budget deficit in two years.

Zimbabwe political foes unite for one-party state

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert Mugabe and chief opposition leader Joshua Nkomo signed an agreement yesterday to unite their political parties and establish a one-party Marxist-Leninist state. The accord followed more than two years of negotiations initiated by outgoing Zimbabwean President Canaan Banana. Under the agreement, the new party will be called Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), the current name of the ruling party.

Two associates of Meese indicted in Wedtech case

Two associates of Attorney General Edwin Meese III were indicted yesterday in the Wedtech scandal, according to independent counsel James McKay, who said his criminal investigation of Mr. Meese will continue. A Meese friend and his former attorney, E. Robert Wallach, and the attorney general's former financial manager, W. Franklyn Chinn, were indicted in New York on federal charges related to the defense contractor's work for the federal government, Mr. McKay disclosed.

A third man who is an associate of Wallach, R. Kent London, was also indicted, McKay said. McKay disclosed that ``there is insufficient evidence'' that Meese ``knowingly participated in criminal activity.''

For Arizona governor, it's recall or voiding petitions

Gov. Evan Mecham can avoid a recall election only by resigning or persuading a judge to throw out petition signatures, say voting officials who have tallied enough signatures to force the vote. Mecham spokesman Ken Smith said the governor has no intention of resigning. Mr. Mecham has drawn fire for canceling a state holiday for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and is under investigation for failing to report a $350,000 campaign loan.

British court turns down muzzle on `Spycatcher'

The High Court refused Monday to grant the British government injunction preventing newspaper reports about ``Spycatcher,'' the memoirs of former intelligence officer Peter Wright. Judge Richard Scott said he gave ``overwhelming weight'' to arguments in favor of press freedom put forward by three newspapers, the Guardian, the Observer, and the Sunday Times of London. The attorney general, Sir Patrick Mayhew, immediately announced he would appeal the decision.

Four supertankers hit by Iraqi planes in Gulf

Iraqi warplanes yesterday bombed and set ablaze four supertankers, including the world's largest, in a long-range raid on Iran's Larak Island oil terminal in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran said its warplanes yesterday bombed Iraqi troop concentrations in the central sector of the seven-year-old war's land front, ``inflicting heavy damage and casualties.'' Iraq said its troops repelled an overnight Iranian push in that sector, killing 200 Iranians.

US official in contempt on nursing home norms

A federal judge has found US Secretary of Health Otis Bowen in contempt of court for failing to set adequate standards for inspecting nursing homes. US District Judge Richard Matsch handed down his ruling Monday and gave Dr. Bowen until Jan. 25 to remedy the matter.

The action follows a contempt hearing last week, the latest hearing in a legal battle that began almost 13 years ago when Michael Patrick Smith and several residents of Heritage House, a Lakewood, Colo., nursing home, filed suit. The plaintiffs alleged they were deprived of their rights and mistreated under barbaric conditions.

Chinese detain 2nd man at the trial of a student

Chinese police detained a second man connected with the New York-based China Spring dissident magazine at the trial of a student who was linked to the publication, Western diplomats in Shanghai said yesterday. The diplomats quoted a Shanghai newspaper as saying the man was arrested Monday when he tried to enter the court, which sentenced US-educated Yang Wei to two years' imprisonment for allegedly inciting antigovernment student protests in 1986. Shanghai's Liberation Daily newspaper named the arrested man as Qian Da but gave no details.

Hussein in Moscow; talks may concern war in Gulf

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev yesterday received King Hussein of Jordan for talks that Arab diplo mats have speculated will search for ways to end the Iran-Iraq war. The official Tass news agency reported that the King had a meeting with the Communist Party leader in the Kremlin, but gave no details of the conversation.

Hussein and his American-born wife, Queen Noor, arrived Monday for what has been described as a brief official visit, their first trip to the Soviet Union in more than five years.

French diplomat meets newsman held in Kabul

A French diplomat in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday met a French journalist held by Afghan authorities for trial, the official Kabul radio said. The radio quoted an Afghan Foreign Ministry source as saying the meeting of the French charg'e d'affaires in Kabul with journalist Alain Guillo was allowed on a request from the French Embassy.

Mr. Guillo, a free-lance photographer, was arrested Sept. 12 for illegally entering Afghanistan from Pakistan with guerrillas fighting the Soviet-backed Kabul government. (For story on guerrillas, see Page 7.)

For the record

South Korean police reinforced security at the US Cultural Center in the southwestern city of Kwangju on Tuesday after a threat to blow up the building. Manufacturers Hanover Corporation will lay off about 2,500 employees by the end of March, company sources said Monday.

The Kenya-Uganda border reopened yesterday after violent border clashes last week, but Uganda said there were still problems hindering the free flow of trade.

Smoking will be banned on US domestic airline flights of two hours or less beginning next year under legislation approved by Congress yesterday.

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