U.S. JOINS GERMAN ANTI-EXTREMIST WORK FBI Director Louis Freeh announced Dec. 13 that he is launching an investigation into American extremists who help German neo-Nazis. He said German law enforcement authorities gave him reports documenting collusion between American extremists and German neo-Nazis. German authorities have been trying to crack down on right-wing extremists, who have killed 30 people over the past three years. The FBI director met Monday with his German counterpart, Hans-Ludwig Zachert, president of the Federal Criminal Office in Wiesbaden, Germany, and the two made a public statement there. Officials in the European nation say a Nebraska resident is the most important supplier of leaflets, posters, and newspapers to neo-Nazis in Germany, where publishing the hate material is illegal. The man currently is out of reach of German authorities because his printing operation in the US is protected by the First Amendment. British blasts

British commuters endured another day of chaos and cancellations Dec. 14 after an explosion along a stretch of train track where Irish guerrillas warned of bombs 24 hours earlier. Railway lines and London subway stations have been targeted for bombing by Irish Republican Army guerrillas fighting to end British rule in Northern Ireland. Colorado law voided

A Colorado judge struck down the state's anti-gay-rights initiative Dec. 14. He ruled that Amendment Two, as it's known, is unconstitutional. It would have banned state and local governments from passing civil-rights laws that give protections to homosexuals. The judge had enjoined the recently passed law from taking effect, and now has made that permanent. Palestinians return

Israel Dec. 14 told Palestinian deportees exiled to a south Lebanon no man's land a year ago that they would be allowed back Dec. 15. They were informed of their freedom when a Lebanese man drove to the tent camp of the 215 exiles from Israel's self-styled security zone and handed over a letter from Israeli authorities. Caribbean trade group

Brushing aside US objections, a group of English-speaking Caribbean countries officially established a commission with Cuba Dec. 13 to coordinate trade and other joint relations. The signing at the headquarters of the 13-nation Caribbean Community was a triumph for Communist Cuba, which is seeking to ease its economic problems through new trade partners and foreign investment. US semiconductor lead

In a remarkable turnaround for a once-troubled industry, US semiconductor makers retook the lead in chip production in 1993, surpassing Japan for the first time in eight years, a research group said Dec. 14. The American gains reflect improved US manufacturing technology, poor economic conditions in Japan, and strong American sales of chips used in personal computers, analysts said. Overall, however, the broadest measure of the trade deficit rose by 3 percent in the third quarter to the highest level in nearly five years, the Commerce Department reported Dec. 14. The gap is largely due to slumps in the economies of Japan and Europe. Shawmut settles suit

Shawmut National Corporation's home mortgage lending unit agreed Dec. 13 to settle a race discrimination case by setting aside $960,000 to reimburse minority applicants who may have been denied loans on the basis of race. Citing this and other improvements to the New England-based bank's minority-lending practices, US Attorney General Janet Reno said Shawmut's moves ``should serve as guidance to all others in the lending industry.'' IBM division sold

Loral Corporation said Dec. 13 it will buy for $1.6 billion in cash the IBM division that designs and operates advanced computers for government agencies. The amount is double the value some analysts had given IBM's Federal Systems Company, reflecting strong interest by several potential buyers, each interested in diversifying from defense contracting.

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