Judicial elections:The Bush administration, clashing with...

Newswatch ... on last week in review

April 29, 1991

Judicial elections:

The Bush administration, clashing with officials of Southern states, urged the U.S. Supreme Court Monday to apply key federal voting rights protections for minorities to the election of judges.

* The Supreme Court Tuesday bolstered the power of police to chase people, even when officers have no "reasonable suspicion" to believe a crime was committed.

Refugees:

United Nations peacekeepers will move into southern Iraq Wednesday and American troops who have been caring for thousands of refugees in the area will withdraw, a U.N. official said Tuesday.

* Kurdish rebel leaders and Saddam Hussein reached a tentative agreement Wednesday that would grant the Kurds the autonomy that they have sought for decades.

* Saudi Arabia has decided to accept and shelter all Iraqi refugees now under American and Saudi control in the south of Iraq and is building a camp to accommodate as many as 50,000 people, a senior Saudi official says.

* Emergency food aid totaling $59 million has been approved by the World Food Program for Kurdish refugees and for refugees or victims of natural disasters in Africa, the Philippines and Afghanistan.

A quarter of a million tons of aid, worth $23.4 million, is on its way to the 1 million Iraqi refugees in Iran, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said Thursday.

Soviet support:

Mikhail Gorbachev Wednesday gained crucial support from the leaders of nine of the country's 15 republics for his plan to prevent economic collapse, including a joint call for an end to a wave of crippling strikes.

The leaders, including the Soviet president's main political rival, Russian republic leader Boris Yeltsin, issued a joint statement that called on striking workers to end their protests "and work to compensate for lost production."

* In a bold political stroke, Gorbachev has struck a deal with his chief reformist rival and fended off a bid by hard-line communists to force him from power.

Gorbachev said Wednesday that the accord, secretly hammered out in his country home with Yeltsin and the heads of eight other republics, will get his reforms back on track.

* Strikers in the western republic of Byelorussia returned to work Friday, after Gorbachev agreed to concessions with nine republics in exchange for a call to end crippling walkouts.

Arrested:

Virgilio Paz-Romero was arrested Tuesday in West Palm TC Beach, Fla., by FBI agents on charges of his involvement in a 1975 Washington bombing that killed Orlando Letelier, then Chilean ambassador to the United States.

Tests:

The government's blood and urine tests on seven railroad employees involved in the April 12 train wreck in Chase have turned up no trace of illegal drugs or alcohol, the Federal Railroad Administration said Wednesday.

Winning pact:

The Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group in Linthicum is to build the radar for America's next generation of Stealth fighters. The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it is awarding the overall $65 billion project to a team consisting of Lockheed Corp., Boeing Co. and General Dynamics. It was a competition that Westinghouse could not lose because both teams vying for the contract had selected Westinghouse to provide the aircraft's radar system.

Rejected:

A federal judge Wednesday rejected a proposed guilty plea that called for Exxon Corp. to pay $100 million to settle criminal charges arising from the 1989 Valdez oil spill. U.S. District Court Judge Russel Holland said the fine, decided in a plea bargain last month, was too small to deter similar actions by other oil companies.

Needing help:

Secretary of State James Baker turned to the Soviet Union for help Thursday to get his lagging Middle East drive in gear.

Baker met with Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh to discuss preliminary preparations for Arab-Israeli negotiations, even though Syria and Israel have not yet agreed on terms to talk.

* After more than a week of shuttle diplomacy, Baker's Mideast peace mission came down Friday to a critical meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir -- and how what Baker hears will play in Damascus. The initial signs were good.

Phone scams:

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. Thursday warned Maryland consumers to watch out for five new telemarketing scams promoting bonus investments or get-rich-quick schemes.

Home sales:

Sales of existing homes rose 0.6 percent in March, the second consecutive advance in that sector of the weakened housing industry, a real estate trade group reported Thursday in Washington.

* The U.S. economy shrank at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the first three months of 1991. The recession embraced nearly every sector of business activity, the government said Friday.

Brutality allegations:

A politically active group of black Baltimore County community leaders is charging county police with brutality against blacks in two recent incidents, and discrimination against black police officers over the last few years.

The leaders of the Coalition of African-American Organizations said Thursday that they had not talked with county police about their charges.

Chernobyl aid:

Mikhail Gorbachev is asking the world to help his country cope with the multibillion-dollar legacy of contamination that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant unleashed five years ago Friday. A radioactive cloud rose over the Soviet republics of Byelorussia and the Ukraine and moved quickly across Europe after the 1986 blast and ensuing fire in Reactor No. 4. Gorbachev added an appeal for international aid to deal with the disaster's long-term effects.

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