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AUSTRALIA GRANTS NATIVE LAND RIGHTS Aborigines rejoiced Dec. 20 as the Australian Senate restored native land rights they had lost when whites colonized Australia more than two centuries ago. After a marathon debate that began Dec. 17, the breakthrough came Dec. 20 when two West Australian Greens, who hold the balance of power in the Senate, said they would support the native title bill. It passed the Senate 34 to 30 just moments after midnight Dec. 20. The lower House of Representatives, where the government holds a majority, is scheduled to approve the bill Dec. 22. Prime Minister Paul Keating, who has fought hard for the bill, was jubilant. ``This has been the longest continuing problem that Australia has faced for 200 years, recognizing that indigenous people, that native people, had the right to their own soil,'' he said. Yeltsin dissolves ministry

Russian President Boris Yeltsin dissolved the former KGB and created a new counterintelligence unit Dec. 20, saying the organization had proved to be ``unreformable.'' The Security Ministry, which was formed to replace the KGB after the failed August 1991 putsch, has been blamed for failing to provide good political assessments on the strength of ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who won recent parliamentary elections. Israeli-PLO talks

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New peace talks between Israel and the PLO opened Dec. 21 in Paris, and early reports suggest progress. During negotiations earlier Dec. 21 in Tunisia the sides reached a basis for compromise on controlling border crossings, one of the toughest obstacles to limited self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They would share control at the two main crossings which link the Gaza Strip to Egypt and Jericho to Jordan, the areas where a gradual turnover of control to the Palestinians is to start. Lebanon car bomb

A car bomb exploded at the headquarters of a right-wing Maronite Christian party in Beirut Dec. 20, killing three and wounding 130 people. Christian and Muslim leaders voiced concern that the bombing signaled a renewal of factional terrorism only three years after the end of Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war. In other news, Pope John Paul II said in a Dec. 20 message to cardinals that he will visit Lebanon in the spring and hopes also to visit the Holy Land. S. Korean shuffles ministers

South Korean President Kim Young Sam fired 12 ministers Dec. 21, answering public anger over South Korea's decision to lift its ban on rice from the US and other foreign countries. This is the first major shake-up since he took office in February. Mr. Kim changed the prime minister last week following a wave of protests by farmers and dissidents against the government's trade policy. N. Korean oil ban rejected

China rejected US pressure for an oil embargo against North Korea Dec. 21, saying it still favors talks to rid the entire Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons. White House chief of staff Thomas McLarty said Dec. 19 that the UN would be pressed for an oil embargo if talks failed to open North Korea's nuclear facilities to international inspection. China price controls

Chinese authorities are slapping price controls back on grain and other staple foods after rumors of shortages led to sharp price increases, official newspapers announced Dec. 21. The move comes just seven months after the government lifted a 40-year-old grain rationing and price control system as part of its efforts to build a market economy. It reflects the Communist government's continued suspicion of a free price system and fear of public unrest. W. Edwards Deming

W. Edwards Deming, the quality control expert who helped revolutionize Japanese manufacturing, died Dec. 20. Mr. Deming, now considered one of the most influential pioneers in the modern industrial world, was a critic of American management who was revered in Japan but initially overlooked in his own country. He helped develop a theory that stressed worker involvement, goal-setting, and communication over competition.

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