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Student protests against a university reform bill widened into a general challenge to the French government Sunday as union leaders joined students in calling for nationwide demonstrations this week. Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, faced with one of the greatest political crises of his term in office, appealed for calm. His interior minister, Charles Pasqua, promised a full investigation into the death of a student on Saturday following what witnesses said was a beating by police. Hundreds of youths fought police in Paris Sunday, and 20,000 students marched to a hospital to protest the death.

Meanwhile, the author of the reform bill, Minister for Higher Education Alain Devaquet, sent a letter of resignation Saturday to Mr. Chirac.

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Iran ordered bombings in Beirut, paper reports

The White House had evidence from intercepted communications that Iran ordered and paid for the 1983 terrorist bombings in Beirut that killed 258 American servicemen and diplomats, The Miami Herald reported in its Sunday editions. The secret eavesdropping network of the National Security Agency intercepted diplomatic messages in 1983 that enabled the United States to follow the movement of more than $1 million from the government of Iran to the Iranian Embassy in Lebanon, the newspaper said. An intelligence report obtained by the newspaper said the money was earmarked for the bombings of the US Embassy in Beirut and the Marine Corps compound at Beirut International Airport.

Police break up protests by students on West Bank

Dozens of mounted police using clubs dispersed more than 100 students protesting the shooting deaths of three Palestinians by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank, a police spokeswoman said Sunday. Soldiers used tear gas and fired in the air to break up demonstrations by several hundred youths in the main West Bank towns of Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, and Ramallah, residents and security sources said.

S. African journalists fear tighter press curbs

The South African Society of Journalists expressed concern Saturday that major newspaper groups have been discussing tighter press controls with the government. A statement issued by President Pieter W. Botha's office Friday said newspaper owners had accepted the need to review the workings of the Media Council, an independent watchdog which disciplines the press. Mr. Botha was quoted as saying that he was unhappy with existing disciplinary procedures and believed they needed ``pepping up.''

Court upholds wiretaps for national security

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High-ranking administration officials can wiretap reporters and government employees if they do so for national-security reasons, a US Court of Appeals said Friday. The decisions in three cases were written by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who has been elevated to the Supreme Court since the case was considered.

Justice Scalia wrote that Nixon administration officials, including Attorney General John Mitchell, were protected by ``qualified immunity'' when the home telephone of Dr. Morton Halperin, then a member of the National Security Council staff, was illegally tapped to try to stem what was perceived as a deluge of classified information leaks to reporters.

Polish government tries to widen political support

Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski appointed a civilian council Saturday to advise the government on economic, social, and political planning in an apparent move to broaden the government's political support. The 56 people named to the council at the founding meeting included academics, economists, government advisers, prominent Roman Catholics, and a former adviser to the outlawed Solidarity free trade union. Most prominent Catholic intellectuals and Solidarity advisers asked to join the council refused.

Monitor writer honored for third-world series

Monitor writer Kristin Helmore has received a Global Media Award for best global series from the Population Institute for her 1985 series, ``The Neglected Resource: Women in the Developing World.'' The Washington, D.C.-based Population Institute is a nonprofit organization that works to educate Americans on third-world population issues.

Ms. Helmore has been a Monitor staff member since 1984. Research for the five-part series included travel to 11 nations in Africa, Asia, and South America.

Brunei also funded contras

Reagan administration sources acknowledged Saturday that the State Department persuaded Brunei, a wealthy Southeast Asian nation, to contribute funds to US-backed Nicaraguan rebels earlier this year, and said the money was sent to a Swiss bank account administered by Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, the New York Times reported Sunday. The sources confirmed a report in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday that the ruler of oil-rich Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, agreed to give a large contribution, said to be under $10 million, to the contras. Elliott Abrams, assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs, initiated the move to solicit funds from Brunei and had the approval of Secretary of State George Shultz, according to the sources. The State Department would not confirm these accounts.

Administration officials quoted by the New York Times said there was no way for the State Department to determine whether the money had been spent for humanitarian aid or military assistance.

In other recent developments:

A Swiss bank has frozen an account used to deposit money stemming from US arms sales to Iran, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Sunday. He said the bank acted after US officials asked for Swiss help Friday in investigating the arms scandal.

President Reagan, devoting his weekly radio address to the secret arms deals with Iran and payments to Nicaraguan rebels, said for the first time mistakes were made in carrying out his policies and pledged to ``set things right.'' Yet he defended his policy of reaching out to Iran and continued to deny that he had attempted to swap arms for hostages.

The Central Intelligence Agency told investigators it had been misled by Colonel North about an arms shipment to Iran it helped arrange in November 1985, the New York Times reported. Citing sources ``familiar with the congressional investigation,'' the paper reported a CIA employee was told the shipment involved ``oil drilling equipment.''

Former national security adviser Robert McFarlane, countering administration assertions, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that President Reagan approved in advance Israel's arms sales to Iran, according to a report published in the New York Times Friday.

White House spokesman Larry Speakes said Friday the President had decided against calling a special session of Congress to investigate the Iran-contra connection.

The Senate and the House will each appoint special committees to conduct investigations in an effort to avoid conflict that could arise from many separate committee investigations.

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