News In Brief

Louis Sullivan, an educator who is a leading candidate to head the Department of Health and Human Services, met yesterday with conservative Republican congressmen who said their concerns about his views on abortion had been calmed. Rep. Vin Weber (R) of Minnesota said after the three-hour meeting at President-elect George Bush's transition office that Mr. Sullivan still appeared to be in line for the post.

Mr. Bush was said by transition aides to be determined to move ahead with the appointment.

2 A-plants get US nod for tests or resumption

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled yesterday that the Seabrook, N.H., nuclear power plant is financially qualified to run low-power tests and said that the plant could receive its low-power license by Jan. 6. The commission also ruled that the Pilgrim plant, in Plymouth, Mass., could resume full-power operations after being shut down for nearly three years.

In the Seabrook case, the commissioners said that Seabrook officials must set aside $72.1 million for decommissioning costs in case the plant receives the low-power license but never secures a full-power commercial license.

Stock speculator indicted in tax and securities fraud

Stock speculator Paul Bilzerian was indicted by a federal grand jury in Manhattan yesterday on 12 counts of securities and tax fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements to the government. The indictment, announced by the US Attorney's Office, involves Mr. Bilzerian's alleged illegal cover-up of details of four large investments in 1985 and '86.

Bilzerian is also head of the Singer Company, a defense contractor he took over in January.

Oliver North trial is set for Jan. 31

US District Judge Gerhard Gesell yesterday set Jan. 31 as the starting date for the trial of Oliver North. Mr. North, then a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel assigned to the staff of the National Security Council, is charged with diverting millions of dollars from the sale of US weapons to Iran to the contras fighting the Nicaraguan government.

Aide to Jackson endorsed by Cuomo to head party

New York Gov. Mario Cuomo has endorsed Ron Brown, a former top campaign aide to Jesse Jackson, to become national chairman of the Democratic Party. Mr. Cuomo made the endorsement in a letter to state party chairman Laurence Kirwan released yesterday. Mr. Brown's candidacy received another boost when New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley (D) of New Jersey also announced his support.

The party's new leader is to be chosen at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Washington Feb. 9 and 10.

Vanuatu leader arrested and charged with mutiny

President George Sokomanu was arrested yesterday and charged with inciting mutiny during his abortive attempt to install an interim government in this South Pacific island nation. The Vanuatu Supreme Court refused to consider bail and ordered him held in police custody until Jan. 4, his next court appearance.

If convicted, Mr. Sokomanu faces a maximum of life imprisonment.

Soviet cosmonauts return after record space voyage

Two Soviet cosmonauts who spent a record 366 days in space returned to Earth with a French astronaut yesterday after a three-hour delay caused by a computer fault in their spacecraft. Vladimir Titov, Musa Manarov, and Frenchman Jean-Loup Chr'etien landed their Soyuz TM-6 vehicle in the steppes of Soviet Central Asia.

A Soviet space official attributed the delay to faulty connections between new computer software and an old program package aboard the Soyuz craft.

New York-bound jet crashes in Scotland

A Pan Am 747 bound for New York with 258 people on board crashed in the small Scottish town of Lockerbie about an hour after leaving London's Heathrow Airport yesterday, the Royal Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Scotland said. Independent Television News (ITN) quoted the Civil Aviation Authority as saying the plane crashed in Lockerbie, a village about 10 miles northwest of Dumfries in southern Scotland.

A Pan Am spokeswoman confirmed in New York that radio contact had been lost with Flight 103 over Scotland. She said there were 240 passengers on board, plus a crew of 15. She could not confirm by press time, however, that the crash had occurred.

ITN said that according to one report the jet hit a gas station adjoining houses. The network quoted eyewitnesses as saying they saw ``a huge explosion and a 300-foot fireball.'' It said emergency services were at the scene. By press time yesterday afternoon, there were no immediate details on casualties.

The flight left London's Heathrow Airport bound for Kennedy Airport in New York at 1:25 p.m., Eastern time, and contact was lost at 2:19 p.m., ITN quoted the Civil Aviation Authority as saying.

Heathrow Airport officials said that the plane disappeared from radar screens over Scotland and that they were ``99 percent certain'' it had crashed.

Gandhi urges friendly ties with China

Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi told Deng Xiaoping, the senior Chinese leader, that it was time to bring back the friendship that once existed between the world's two most populous countries. Mr. Gandhi said his three-day visit to Peking marked a turning point after 30 years of difficulty and conflict. But he made no mention of any breakthrough on the two nations' border dispute, which remains the most serious irritant in bilateral ties.

Gandhi said his talks with Chinese leaders, which ended yesterday, had laid foundations for a stable relationship that would make a significant contribution to a new world order. ``We have agreed we can and should move ahead in normalizing our relations with an abiding commitment to the five principles of peaceful coexistence jointly authored by India and China more than three decades ago.''

The principles stress respect for sovereignty, equality, non-aggression, and non-interference, as well as peaceful coexistence. Toward this end, the two countries decided to hold annual talks at deputy foreign minister level. There will also be consultations in New York every year, although Gandhi did not specify at what level.

Talks on the border question had been positive, he said, and the two sides had agreed to ``move ahead purposefully'' to resolve the issue through peaceful negotiations. But he acknowledged that it was a sensitive and complex issue, for which there was no ``instant solution.'' Differences over the frontier led to a brief but violent war between China and India in 1962. Eight rounds of talks on the issue in the past seven years have ended in deadlock. Gandhi indicated that there was still a long way to go, saying the question of conceding territory had not been raised during this week's talks.

For the record

Americans' personal income declined 0.2 percent in November, falling from unusually high October levels, the government said yesterday. US customs officials seized 5,000 pounds of cocaine Tuesday from a Panamanian freighter near Miami in an operation that has netted about $50 million.

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