News In Brief
The government of President Corazon Aquino rejected communist rebel demands yesterday but said it still hoped for a meeting of minds in peace talks to start Jan. 6. Presidential spokesman Teodoro Benigno said rebel demands for an ultimate share of power, the closing of US military bases in the Philippines, a rewriting of the new constitution, and a merging of armed forces were all non-negotiable issues. Each item represents a major demand by the rebels, who for the first time in their 17-year insurgency in the Philippine countryside are observing a cease-fire.
Uruguay OKs amnesty for human rights violators
The Uruguayan Chamber of Deputies overwhelmingly approved an amnesty yesterday for soldiers accused of human rights violations during the 1973-85 military rule. The vote came after a brawl-marred all-night debate. The Senate approved the amnesty Sunday, and the House's vote averted a showdown between the powerful armed forces and the elected government of President Julio Mar'ia Sanguinetti. During its 12 years in power, the military jailed tens of thousands of people and tortured many of them as part of a crackdown on the left.
Israeli censors permit reports of Vanunu kidnap
Former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu flashed a message on the palm of his hand while being taken to court Sunday, and yesterday the military censor allowed journalists to disclose that it said he had been kidnapped in Rome. The message he relayed Sunday was the first word from Mr. Vanunu, who has been held incommunicado since being brought to Israel in October to await trial on charges of espionage.
The Sunday Times in London reported Oct. 5 that Vanunu gave it information on a factory in the Negev Desert where he said Israel has made 100 to 200 nuclear weapons. Vanunu disappeared in London on Sept. 30 and news reports had said he was kidnapped from England or from international waters by agents of Mossad, the Israeli secret service.
IRA claims responsibility for weekend bombings
Irish Republican Army bombs wrecked two hotels and a pub in weekend attacks, but security forces thwarted a bomb attempt on a nightclub. No injuries were reported, but officials estimated damage at more than $1.5 million. The IRA claimed responsibility in a statement sent to news organizations. Police in Northern Ireland had warned that the IRA planned a pre-Christmas bombing blitz after explosives were seized recently in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
New Cabinet in Pakistan; pact with India signed
Pakistani President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq swore in a sharply slimmed-down Cabinet of 16 members yesterday to replace the 36-member body that resigned on Saturday. According to an official list of the new Cabinet, six ministers retained their posts. The Cabinet resigned after a discussion of law-and-order issues sparked by ethnic rioting in Karachi. Government officials said later that the resignation had nothing to do with the riots. Meanwhile, officials from India and Pakistan agreed Sunday on limited joint efforts to check terrorism, drugs, and illegal travel between their neighboring countries. The agreement was aimed at preventing Sikh extremists from using Pakistan as a base for terrorist raids into India.
No cause clear in death of molestation plaintiff
Preliminary results of an autopsy failed to establish the cause of death of the woman whose allegations her son had been sexually abused brought on the McMartin Pre-School molestation case, officials said. Judy Ann Johnson was found dead Friday at her home in Manhattan Beach, Calif. Sheriff's investigators said there were no obvious signs of foul play.
It was Mrs. Johnson's complaint to police that began the investigation leading to charges against seven workers at the McMartin Pre-School in Manhattan Beach. The school closed amid the allegations that hundreds of children had been molested. Charges against all but two defendants were later dropped. The trial of Raymond Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, is tentatively scheduled to begin Jan. 12.
Nicaraguans to receive $300 million in Soviet aid
The Soviet Union has signed a $300 million economic aid package for Nicaragua for next year, the official Sandinista newspaper Barricada reported Saturday. Most of the aid will be in the form of gasoline, raw materials, and machinery, it said. The agreement was signed in Moscow Saturday by Henry Ruiz, minister for foreign cooperation, and Alexander Kachanov, Soviet vice-president for external collaboration. It was not clear if this represented the total economic aid for 1987.
Labor dispute brings French trains to a halt
The entire French train network came to a virtual standstill yesterday as Prime Minister Jacques Chirac met senior ministers to assess a four-day-old strike, as well as disruption in ports and in the Paris M'etro system. Unions and management at the state-owned railway were due to open negotiations yesterday. A spokesman for the rail agency said talks on 1987 wages, which had been scheduled for January, had been advanced by Transport Minister Jacques Douffiagues. Rail workers, unhappy with management wage offers and working conditions, began strikes on Thursday in Paris.
Iran-contra update. No Reagan lure for NSC aides
President Reagan has no plan to use his power of granting pardons to lure former aides John Poindexter and Oliver North to the congressional witness table, White House spokesman Larry Speakes said yesterday. ``The President is not planning a pardon for them, but of course as chief executive always retains the right to executive clemency,'' he said.
Earlier on ABC's ``This Week With David Brinkley,'' Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) of Hawaii, chairman of the special Senate panel investigating the US arms sales to Iran, said the panel might consider limited immunity for White House officials and seek help from Iran to learn about the transactions.
Rep. Lee Hamilton (D) of Indiana, head of the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS's ``Face the Nation'' that independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh should get a chance at determining whether criminal acts have been committed before any decision on immunity is made.
In other recent developments:
The Observer, a London newspaper, reported that the eldest son of the speaker of Iran's parliament, Hashemi Rafsanjani, is believed to have fled to Canada with at least $6 million in commissions from the secret US-Iran arms deals. The Observer, quoting unidentified Iranian sources in London, said Mehdi Bahremani left his home in Brussels on Nov. 15 after being tipped off that Iranian President Ali Khamenei was sending an investigator to question him about his alleged involvement in the sales. The paper said Mr. Bahremani is a close associate of Manoucher Ghorbanifar, identified as the head of Iran's intelligence network in Europe, who allegedly played a key role in buying US arms.
Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite said fighting around the Lebanese capital would likely prevent him from returning to Beirut at Christmas to resume negotiations for the release of American hostages.