News Currents

UNITED STATESThe offer of $1.25 billion in food credits and $165 million in humanitarian aid to the Soviets from the US should have been larger, US farm groups said Wednesday. For years, the Soviet Union has been the No. 1 market for US grain, and the world faces a current grain glut.... The Senate Wednesday confirmed William Barr as the nation's 77th attorney general by a voice vote after strong endorsements from Democrats and Republicans.... IBM is likely to announce further cutbacks in its work force soon, industr y sources said Wednesday. MIDDLE EAST Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party will hold internal elections next month that are related to planned economic and political reforms for the one-party country. The NDP has been in power since the late President Anwar Sadat created it in 1978. The IMF and World Bank are providing credits and loans and the Paris Club of creditor nations will write off about $10 billion of Egypt's foreign debt. Reform of the public sector may mean sacking thousands of workers used to promis es of full employment.

AFRICA The South African government and the opposition African National Congress said yesterday they planned to start long-awaited talks on a nonracial constitution Dec. 20.... The Johannesburg squatter settlement of Phola Park lost its most treasured asset - the only telephone serving 35,000 people - when three men threw a hand grenade into an administrative office Wednesday. The telephone hot line, used to alert police to attacks by members of the Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party and incidents of harassme nt by security forces, had worked for three weeks, after a six-month fight to have it put in.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC The US will postpone planned troop withdrawals from South Korea because of North Korea's suspected development of nuclear weapons, Defense Secretary Richard Cheney said yesterday.... China made clear yesterday it would accede to a pact covering sales of medium-range missiles if the US lifted sanctions imposed on two Chinese companies in June.... McDonald's is coming to Beijing the first half of next year. It will not be the first in China - Big Macs have been selling for more than a year at a McDonald's in the southern city of Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong.... Monks in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto have won a bitter battle with Kyoto Hotel company, forcing it to abandon a plan to build a skyscraper hotel. The Buddhist Association said a skyscraper would destroy the beauty and harmony of one of Japan's loveliest cities.... A macabre exhibit of human skulls at a museum in Tuol Sleng, housing a former Khmer Rouge torture center, should be dismantled, Cambodia's newly returned Prince Norodom Sihanouk said y esterday. He wants the remains cremated.

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