News Currents

MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS US Secretary of State James Baker arrived in France Jan. 8 for talks with President Fran,cois Mitterrand and Foreign Minister Roland Dumas on the eve of a meeting with Iraq's Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz in Geneva. Baker was also due to visit Persian Gulf crisis allies Germany and Italy.... Six Iraqi helicopters flew to Saudi Arabia with an unknown number of defectors, apparently the first to cross the Kuwaiti border by air since the Persian Gulf crisis began. It was not known whether the helicopters carried troops other than the crews.... Saudi Arabia's King Fahd told visiting British Prime Minister John Major Jan. 7 that he sees the need for an international force in the Persian Gulf after the current crisis is over.... Israeli soldiers deported four Palestinian activists to Lebanon Jan. 8, the first expulsions by Israel in 18 months. The four, all from the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip, were accused of key roles in the banned fundamentalist Islamic Resistance Movement.


Among several decisions Jan. 7, the Supreme Court of the United States court let stand a ruling that American companies can be sued for damages allegedly caused to foreign workers on foreign soil. Costa Rican farmers had sued US pesticide manufacturers.... The court let stand a ruling that public school teachers in Texas are not considered state employees, even though teachers must pass a state-administered certification test.... The court refused to review a 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals decision that Los Angeles County must change its voting precincts to facilitate the election of a Hispanic to the Board of Supervisors.... The court let stand a decision that a court can be ordered to review the constitutionality of a prior conviction before a person found guilty of a new crime is sentenced as a repeat offender.... The court let stand a decision that the National Football League cannot be sued under antitrust laws for blocking its best players from becoming free agents, as long as a players' union exists.


In Lithuania, pro-Moscow demonstrators clashed with police in the capital Vilnius Jan. 8, raising tensions stoked by the appearance of Soviet paratroops sent to enforce the Kremlin's military draft order. President Vytautas Landsbergis called for a counter-demonstration to back his government's drive toward independence.... In Manila, President Corazon Aquino put the Philippine armed forces on alert Jan. 8 in case of possible threats to her government if a war breaks out in the Persian Gulf. Military officials have predicted widespread disturbances if a war sparks high domestic oil prices and food shortages.... At the United Nations, Indonesia, chairing a conference to ban nuclear tests, accused the US and the Soviet Union of failing to end nuclear explosions. The UN is considering widening a 1963 treaty banning nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater to include underground testing.

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