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President Reagan proposed yesterday that Congress ``give Americans that last full measure of security'' by providing catastrophic health care for the elderly through social security. The plan would essentially provide catastrophic health care coverage under medicare, while limiting out-of-pocket expenses to $2,000. The coverage would cost medicare beneficiaries an additional $4.92 a month, or $59 a year.

Mr. Reagan's decision, which spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Thursday ``was made this morning,'' represented a victory for Health and Human Services Secretary Otis Bowen, whose catastrophic health care proposal was largely embraced after following a lengthy debate within the administration.

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Shift in air traffic flow seeks a speedup in East

Major changes in the air traffic control system over the eastern third of the nation went into effect yesterday, with officials hoping the new ``four lane'' plan will speed air travel for millions. The new system, called the Expanded East Coast Plan, is part of a plan the Federal Aviation Administration says will simplify air routes, improve tracking, cut down departure delays, and handle more flights. Instead of having to space out planes so they can fly over a single radio checkpoint, the plan allows controllers to keep traffic flowing past any of four points that are seven to 10 miles apart.

Egyptians go to polls to dissolve parliament

Egyptians yesterday took part in a referendum on whether to dissolve their parliament and thus clear the way for general elections in April. An overwhelming vote was expected in favor of dissolution of the 458-seat People's Assembly, elected for a five-year term in May 1984. Politicians and the national press predicted general elections would be held April 9.

President Hosni Mubarak called the referendum eight days ago, saying it was needed to clear the way for a new election law, rushed through two months ago because of disputes over the old law's constitutionality. Mr. Mubarak's main motive in calling the referendum appears to be to ensure that the Assembly, which will nominate him for a second six-year term in October, will be constitutionally beyond reproach.

5 marines returned to US from USSR for inquiry

Five marines have been transferred to the United States from the security force at the US Embassy in Moscow in the wake of an investigation of a former embassy guard charged with spying for the Soviets, Pentagon sources said yesterday. The sources, who asked not to be named, said the five had been transferred to a base in northern Virginia pending completion of an ``administrative inquiry.'' The transfers, the sources said, were not directly connected to the inquiry on Sgt. Clayton J. Lonetree, a former Marine guard in Moscow, who is now being held on charges of espionage.

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The Washington Post yesterday quoted Arthur Hartman, US ambassador to the Soviet Union, as saying the investigation of Sergeant Lonetree ``had revealed that other things were happening,'' requiring that other marines be sent to the US.

Workers in Greece stage walkout over wage freezes

More than a million workers opened a week of strikes against the socialist government of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou yesterday, protesting a government austerity program. A 24-hour strike by the Confederation of Greek Workers was joined by a five-day strike by bank clerks and will be expanded into a two-day nationwide general strike on Monday involving an estimated 2 million workers. The walkout grounded most flights of the Greek national airline, Olympic Airways, and severely disrupted rail and bus transport. Power cuts affected many parts of the country.

The strikers are trying to overturn a virtual wage freeze introduced by Mr. Papandreou in October 1985 as part of an austerity program designed to cut runaway inflation and a record current-account deficit.

3 brokerage men arrested in insider-trading case

Wall Street's federal insider-trading probe resulted in three major arrests of securities industry figures Thursday. The US Attorney's office said the head of risk arbitrage at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and two people with ``significant roles'' at Kidder, Peabody & Co. have been arrested on insider-trading charges. The Goldman, Sachs employee was named as Robert Freeman, and the two from Kidder, Peabody were Richard Wigdon and Timothy Tabor.

American paratroopers in Honduras exercise

The US 82nd Airborne Division, with about 800 men, was scheduled to parachute near Palmerola, Honduras, yesterday as part of the Big Pine '87 exercise, the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa reported. They were to jump with an undetermined number of Honduran soldiers, according to the Honduran Foreign Ministry.

US Navy secretary planning to resign

Navy Secretary John F. Lehman Jr., who has overseen a massive peacetime buildup of the US fleet, has decided to resign his post later this year, the Pentagon said yesterday. A Pentagon spokesman said Mr. Lehman had not set a date for his return to private life.

US retail sales plunge as auto boom peters out

Retail sales plummeted a record 5.8 percent in January as customers deserted auto showrooms and car sales plunged at their fastest pace ever, the government reported yesterday. The drop in retail sales was the largest since at least 1967, when recent record keeping began. The Commerce Department said retail sales last month totaled a seasonally adjusted $119.3 billion, after a 4.6 percent increase in December. Auto sales dropped 22.4 percent from December, also a record.

Soviet TV shows coming to the screens of America

Some Americans will get a glimpse of daily Soviet television -- news programs, cartoons, rock videos, game shows, and more -- during a week-long experiment by a US cable channel that begins Sunday. The Discovery Channel, in an effort ``to present an accurate view of state-controlled Soviet TV,'' will provide 66 hours of Russian television to its 14 million US subscribers, Discovery chairman John Hendricks said.

The programming will include ``Sweet Dreams for Youngsters,'' a nightly puppet show for children, and ``Let's Go Girls,'' a weekend game show that tests the strength, athletic, and artistic skills of young Soviet women.

Monitor editorial writer cited by women's group

Monitor staff member Ruth Walker has received an Exceptional Merit Media Award for editorial writing from the National Women's Political Caucus, which conducted a media competition for the first time this year. Ms. Walker has been with the Monitor since 1978.

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