The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 24, 1986 · Page 5
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 5

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Friday, January 24, 1986
Page 5
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Nation/World The Salina Journal Friday, January 24,1986 Page 5 At least 38 killed in hotel fire in India Mayors told to MP.W T"rtTT UT T«J:_ /An\ TTII *^ expect major cuts in federal funding NEW DELHI, India (AP) - Fire , raged through a luxury hotel before dawn Thursday, killing at least 38 people, Indian officials said. One American was among the dead, and ; 38 people were hospitalized. Some victims were found in their beds, and others escaped by breaking windows, tying bedsheets together and lowering themselves to • the ground. Several leaped to their death from the 10-story Siddharth Continental Hotel, which is in the upper-class Vasant Vihar suburb, fire officials said. Police and fire officials said it was the worst hotel fire in the Indian capital since independence from Britain in 1947. About half the victims were foreigners. Names were not released pending notification of relatives, police said. The victims included a West German diplomat and his wife, an Argentine diplomat, three Britons, two Japanese, two Australians, an Iraqi, a Soviet citizen and the American. ' 'It was only by the grace of God we got out alive," said Jane Rosser, an official for the U.S. relief agency CARE, who is based in Bangkok, Thailand. "If I had awakened min' utes later in that hotel without lights, I wouldn't be here." She said she herded a half-dozen people into a room, smashed open a window and got them to tie bedsheets ' together. They lowered themselves • about 30 feet and dropped onto a balcony, then groped their way to a fire escape. "I knew that when I opened the door and gulped the smoke I would be dead if I didn't act. I must have done what I had seen in the movies," said Rosser, a native of Newton, Mass. She said she heard no fire alarm, the hotel lights were out, and there Gray Firefighters inspect the banquet hall of the Siddharth Continental Hotel hi New Delhi. were no auxiliary lights marking emergency exits on the fifth floor where she stayed. She also said there was no working sprinkler system, the windows wouldn't open, and she saw no one organizing rescue operations. A spokesman in New York for CARE said Christopher Roesel, 37, of Alexandria, Va., a technical adviser stationed in Bangkok, was hospitalized in serious condition from smoke inhalation. An American identified by a hospital source as Richard Arnell was seriously injured. No further infor- mation was immediately available. Police filed preliminary charges of negligence against the management of the five-star hotel, which is owned by the Siddharth Intercontinental chain of India. The hotel is not affiliated with the worldwide Intercontinental chain. A judicial inquiry was ordered into the blaze and safety measures at the hotel, which had about 190 guests. Many guests said they never heard a fire alarm and groped their way in the dark through blistering heat and dense, acrid smoke. The hotel management and employees insisted that fire alarms were sounded, but said many people were asleep and did not hear them. Many guests, however, said there was no warning and complained about slow and confused rescue operations. "Absolute chaos ... like something out of the movies," said Nicholas Pallent, a British businessman from Bristol. "I owe the fact that I'm alive to the fact that I wasn't sleeping," he said. WASHINGTON (AP) - The House Budget Committee chairman told the nation's mayors Thursday to expect outright elimination of many federal urban aid programs and cuts of perhaps 50 percent in those that survive. Rep. William Gray, D-Pa., appearing before the U.S. Conference of Mayors, expressed sympathy for city leaders facing major cuts in federal money upon which they have depended. But Gray served notice that the reality of the fight to control federal budget deficits is such that most of those aid programs have a bleak future unless federal taxes are raised — and that Congress won't raise taxes unless President Reagan agrees. "If you want a message to tell your constituents," Gray said, "The message is that if you don't want the programs eliminated you ought to tell the president to come out of the skybox and put (tax) revenues on the table. "If revenues are not brought to the table, it leaves Bill Gray with one avenue. It's what? It's cutting spending." Gray addressed the mayors' task force on urban economic policy, meeting during the conference's annual winter meeting. His remarks followed a morning of pleas by big- city mayors for preservation of such urban aid programs as general revenue sharing, community development block grants and housing subsidies. A brief glimmer of hope was presented on revenue sharing, the $4.6 billion-a-year program of unfettered aid to 39,000 local governments, when Rep. Bob McEwen, R-Ohio, described his bill for a revived, slimmed-down program. But Gray's remarks fell like cold water on the mayors. Mayor Joseph Riley of Charleston, S.C., questioned why Congress couldn't send Reagan a budget that includes higher taxes despite presidential opposition. "We all know that there's only one way we're going to get out of this deficit mess," Riley said, and that is higher federal taxes. "We need to get back to reality." Gray agreed with the suggestion that more taxes are necessary but added: "There are some very real political realities around here, Mr. Mayor ... You don't get revenues without the president's support." Courier pleads guilty hi U.S. spy case Head of VA, Walters, soon may step down /WASHINGTON (AP) - Randy Miles Jeffries, a former courier with a stenographic reporting firm, pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge Of giving classified national security .documents to a person unauthorized , to receive them. •> In exchange for the guilty plea in U.S. District Court, government .prosecutors agreed to dismiss the : more serious charge of delivering — or attempting to deliver — national : defense secrets to the Soviet Union. . Jeffries, 26, who lives in the District of Columbia, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted on the charge that prosecutors dismissed, Jeffries could have gotten life imprisonment. U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova said the government would seek the maximum penalty for the charge to which Jeffries pleaded guilty. "We're very satisfied with the way the case proceeded," he said after the plea was entered. Jeffries worked for a stenographic firm which transcribes secret proceedings of the House Armed Services Committee. The government had charged him with taking top- secret and secret national security documents from the company and trying to sell them 10 the Soviets. In court documents, the government said Jeffries worked for the . Acme Reporting Co. Inc., but did not have a security clearance and was not authorized to have access to or possession of classified information and documents for any purpose. Nevertheless, on Dec. 14, Jeffries was directed by an Acme official to rip up classified documents and deposit them. Instead of doing that, the government charged, Jeffries took the documents and hid them until the end of his workday. Among the documents was a transcript of a briefing given about a secret military program. The government said the testimony included a joint net assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the United States versus the Soviets in weaponry as well as in command and control. The government said Jeffries took the documents home with him and told a co-worker who drove him that "he (Jeffries) could make money from the documents and wanted to contact the Russians to sell the documents to them." That same day, Jeffries, identifying himself as "Dano" called the duty officer at the Soviet Military Office here and offered to sell him three classified military documents, the government alleged. Shortly after the telephone call, the government said, Jeffries took a cab to the Soviet building where he was observed entering the building with a briefcase. He remained inside 33 minutes. WASHINGTON (AP) - Harry N. Walters, head of the Veterans Administration for the last three years, plans to resign soon, government sources said Thursday. Selective Service Director Thomas K. Turnage, 62, a retired Army general, was expected to be named as Walters' successor. Walters, 49, a former West Point football star, told a reporter it would be inappropriate for him to comment. "For the last six months to a year it's been no secret that I intended to step down as administrator of the VA," Walters said. "I'm looking to leave government. That's not much of a secret." The report came from sources in government and close to the VA. A phone call to Turnage was transferred to his chief of staff, Col. Jim DeWire, who said, "I can't make a comment." He did add, however, that Selective Service employees "have heard the same rumor." Walters has drawn high marks from veterans organizations. Gift, car buying drive consumer spending, debt up at sharp pace TUNE-UP FOR WINTER Automotive Sale Sale ends January 25 unless otherwise stated. WASHINGTON (AP) — New car financing deals and a brisk Christmas shopping season helped propel Americans' spending up by 2 percent in December, the biggest monthly rise in more than a decade and outpacing an accompanying 1.4 percent gain in personal incomes, the government said Thursday. The Commerce Department report showed consumers are continuing to spend more than they make — increasing their debt and drawing down savings to the lowest levels since before the Korean War. The department said the increase in personal consumption was the largest monthly gain since a 2.5 percent increase in May 1975. .. A resumption of easy-term financing for new cars by major U.S. automakers in mid-December was credited with part of the increase, as were better-than-average Christmas sales. , However, December spending was almost equally strong across other sectors of the economy. Analysts said the report dispelled . fears that consumer spending was on .the verge of a sharp decline and brightened the outlook for economic growth in the months ahead — despite a government report Wednesday that the economy grew by an anemic 2.3 percent throughout 1985. "Consumers are alive, well, kicking and spending," said Allen Sinai, chief economist for Shearson- Lehman Bros., a New York brokerage and investment firm. "It indicates the considerable resiliency of consumer spending. Consumers will only slow their spending under great duress." Although rising at a slower clip than spending, personal income continued to expand through the year. The 1.4 percent December gain was the best monthly performance since a 1.5 percent rise in January 1984. Incomes rose 5.9 percent overall in 1985, compared to a 9.7 percent surge in 1984. Spending for the year was up 6.6 percent, compared to a 8.7 percent increase in 1984. With spending rising faster than earnings, the savings rate fell to 3.7 percent, down from 4.2 percent in November but still above the all-time low of 2.8 percent set in September. For the year, the savings rate av- eraged 4.6 percent, the lowest since a 3.9 percent rate in 1949. Presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said the administration expects "the rise (of) personal income and spending to signal a strong first quarter for the nation's economy." The administration has projected 4 percent growth for 1986. Most private economists predict growth will be between 3 percent and 3.5 percent, but some said Thursday that they might increase their projections slightly for the first quarter of 1986 as a result of the strong report on consumer spending. RALPH WEIGEL Bonds • Insurance Phone 827-29O6 115 East Iron BREAKFAST FEATURE HAM AND CHEESE OMELET Made with 3 fresh grade A eggs, diced ham and cheddar cheese. And your choice of hash browns & toast or biscuits and gravy! 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