News In Brief

Authorities arrested a number of Sicilian Mafia figures yesterday in a joint US-Italian undercover operation aimed at international drug-trafficking rings in both countries, authorities announced. The FBI said 75 people have been charged in the US and 133 in Italy. It said its three-year undercover operation involved court-authorized wiretaps, physical surveillance, and heroin and cocaine buys to develop the evidence that led to the arrests.

Arrests were being made yesterday in eight US and nine Italian cities. The Italian news agency AGI said the investigation that led to the raids stemmed from the ``Pizza Connection'' international drug ring.

Pretrial pardon for North is ruled out by President

President Reagan ruled out a pre-trial pardon yesterday for Iran-contra defendant Oliver North, saying such a pardon would leave his former White House aide ``under a shadow of guilt.'' Mr. Reagan also said his decision to suppress certain evidence was vital to protect ``national security secrets.'' The White House said earlier yesterday that documents sought by Mr. North contain intelligence secrets that cannot be divulged, and it is ``up to the judge'' to decide whether to dismiss the charges against him if the classified material is relevant to his defense.

Solidarity backers cheer Walesa after TV debate

Solidarity backers declared Lech Walesa the winner of an unprecedented TV debate in which he dueled with his official counterpart and urged the government to legalize the banned labor movement. Wednesday's showdown between the Solidarity chairman and Alfred Miodowicz, head of the government's official trade unions, was broadcast live and uncensored.

It was the first time in five years that Mr. Walesa had a chance to defend his federation on state-controlled television and his longest appearance ever on Polish TV.

Stiff winds hamper rescue after Bangladeshi storm

Strong winds and cloudy skies hampered helicopter search-and-rescue operations yesterday in battered coastal regions and tiny sand bars where more than 500 people were reported dead after a cyclone. The cyclone lashed the Bay of Bengal coast Tuesday, churning up 15-foot-high waves that submerged low-lying islands and pounding the mainland with winds up to 102 m.p.h.

Palestinian arrested in West Germany

Another suspected member of a radical Palestinian guerrilla group has been arrested in connection with bombing attacks on US military trains in West Germany, the Federal Prosecutor's Office said yesterday. Monday's arrest was the latest in a crackdown on what investigators said was the West German unit of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

The bombings took place in August 1987 and last April.

S. Korean Cabinet acts to curb security agency

South Korea's Cabinet approved a bill yesterday to ban the powerful national security agency from meddling in politics and abusing human rights, a government spokesman said. The bill, which must get parliamentary approval this month before becoming law, says the Agency for National Security Planning must stay politically neutral and limit its investigations to espionage and subversion.

The opposition has long accused the agency of torturing political dissidents and fabricating pro-communist charges.

Mexican President takes office despite protests

Carlos Salinas de Gortari was inaugurated as President of Mexico yesterday despite opposition protests that his government is illegitimate and won't make the economic and political reforms the people want. Democratic Front delegates walked out just before Mr. Salinas was inaugurated, while members of the National Action Front held up signs saying ``Fraud.''

In his inaugural address Mr. Salinas said he was taking power at a time of conflict and change and promised ``nationalist, democratic, and popular'' reforms.

For the record

Colin Powell, White House national security adviser, will be promoted to four-star rank and made commander in chief of the Army's Forces Command in Atlanta, the Pentagon announced yesterday. The US government said yesterday that the index of leading economic indicators, a barometer of future economic trends in the US, rose 0.1 percent in October.

Sudan's Cabinet has approved a peace pact that could end more than five years of civil war in the south of the country, state Radio Omdurman said yesterday.

Army trucks and charter buses ferried 60,000 people to work in Paris yesterday as a transport strike severely disrupting life in the French capital worsened.

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