News Currents

UNITED STATESOnly one-fifth of Americans say they are better off since President Bush took office and a slim majority want a president who will set a new course for the country, according to a poll released Tuesday. The ABC News/Washington Post poll indicated growing economic woes had the potential to peril Bush's re-election prospects.... A judge has ruled the first person charged under Michigan's AIDS disclosure law must stand trial next month. Jeffrey Hanlon is accused of failing to warn a sex partner that he susp ected he had the virus that causes AIDS.... The Bank of Credit and Commerce International financed the Reagan administration's secret sale of arms to Iran for a profit, but FBI agents later covered up the bank's role, a former bank official testified Tuesday. Abdur Sakhia told a Senate subcommittee that when he was in charge of US operations for BCCI in 1987, FBI investigators asked him for bank records about the arms deal. The investigators promised that they would keep the Pakistani-run bank's role "out o f the press," he said.... Scientists in San Diego said Tuesday signs of weathering on Egypt's Great Sphinx indicate it may be as much as 4,000 years older than now believed - a discovery that could rewrite the history of civilization. EUROPE United States Secretary of State James Baker III said yesterday in Paris that the US was ready to begin normalizing relations with Vietnam and that he expects such talks to begin within a month.... Nigerian author Ben Okri won the Booker Prize, Britain's most prestigious literary award, and dedicated the honor Tuesday "to all those who struggle and suffer in silence and in public and who never stop fighting and always keep on dreaming." He was the surprise winner for his novel, "The Famished Road," whose hero, Azaro, a "spirit child" with magical powers, has left a realm of idyllic fantasy to experience life in a poor Nigerian compound during a civil war.... Britain's House of Lords, the highest court of appeal, yesterday overturned a centuries-old principle of English law that there is no such thing as rape in marriage.

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN Cuban President Fidel Castro arrived in Mexico late Tuesday for a summit with the leaders of Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia during which he will be urged to implement deep-rooted political reform. Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a longtime associate of the Cuban leader, joined in the talks, according to Mexican television. Colombian Foreign Minister Luis Fernando Jaramillo told reporters shortly before leaving Bogota for the summit that the three heads of state would seek to broker a br oad political opening in Cuba.... Haiti could run out of gasoline and diesel fuel within eight days because of an international trade embargo to force the reinstatement of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the country's new military-backed authorities have warned.

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