News Briefs I
Iranian Agents Are Implicated in Dissidents' DeathsLos Angeles Times
In a startling admission of wrongdoing by security forces, Iran announced Tuesday that a network of "deviant" intelligence agents has been rounded up in the mysterious slayings of five dissidents late last year.
A statement from the Intelligence Ministry said a group of its agents, acting on their own, had carried out "horrendous" crimes that had "to a very great extent tarnished the credibility" of the Islamic Republic.
The statement, distributed by the official Islamic Republic News Agency, gave no clue as to how many agents may have been involved in the killings or how high their ranks. It suggested that the killings had taken place at the instigation of foreign agents but gave no details to support that claim.
The ministry emphasized its condemnation of the deaths and pledged to get to the bottom of the "complicated" case by uprooting "all the bandits, gangsters and alien agents both within and outside the country" who were involved.
Angola Factions Won't Aid Search for Missing PlanesLos Angeles Times
For 10 days, U.N. staff members have waited with anger and frustration to find out the fate of 10 colleagues aboard a plane that crashed in Angola. Both sides in the African nation's civil war have refused to stop fighting long enough for rescuers to reach the crash site.
Over the weekend, a second aircraft with more U.N. personnel apparently was shot down, and their fate also remains uncertain.
Despite urgent pleas, neither the government nor rebels from the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) have made efforts to cooperate with search teams.
At the United Nations, diplomats and staff members voiced rage and despair Monday.
"The secretary-general expressed his outrage and said all threats to U.N. personnel must stop immediately," said Kofi Annan's spokesman, Fred Eckhard. "What we are looking for is cooperation from both sides. Until both sides cease fire and allow our search-and-rescue missions to go in, nothing can be accomplished.
Freeze Will Likely
Boost Citrus PricesWASHINGTONPOST
Joseph Vejar of the Los Angeles-based Valley Fruit and Produce Co., a major Southern California wholesaler, said high prices for citrus products are expected "well into the summer." Similar predictions were issued by other wholesalers in central and northern California.
The price predictions came as farmers cautiously reassess damage from a four-day freeze that wiped out much of the central valley's navel orange crop, the nation's largest. The state originally estimated crop losses at $591 million. That was revised Monday to $540 million, with about $440 million of the losses in oranges, said Bob Krauter, spokesman for the California Farm Bureau Federation.
The heaviest losses were in the heart of the central valley in Tulare and Kern counties, where many packing houses have shut down and at least 12,000 farm workers and packing shed workers have been thrown out of work. Because temperatures rose slowly after the freeze, a few growers have been able to salvage some navel oranges and may save still more of the unpicked crop.