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Mozambique's President Samora Machel has been killed in a plane crash on South Africa's eastern border. Machel and twenty-eight others died in the crash during a thunderstorm last night. Ten survived. They were returning home from a weekend summit of African leaders in Zambia. Machel was fifty-three. He led Mozambique to independence and had been President since 1975.


General Motors announced today it is selling its assets in South Africa. G.M. Chairman Roger Smith said the recession in South Africa and a lack of progress in ending apartheid has created what he called an increasingly difficult business environment. Smith said GM South African operations had been losing money for several years. GM's Opel and Isuzu subsidiaries will be sold to a group headed by local South African management.


The Reagan Administration today reacted angrily to the Soviet expulsion of five American diplomats from the Soviet Union yesterday. NPR's Jim Angle has details. "White Home spokesman Larry Speakes called it an unjustified action based on unfounded allegations. 'We are upset, outraged, and chagrined,' he said. At the State Department, spokesman Charles Redman said the US has made its views of the expulsions clear to Soviet officials in Moscow. 'We did protest that action. In doing so, we made the point that this action is totally without justification and cannot help but have a detrimental effect on our relations.' Administration officials said the expulsion was clearly a retaliation for the US expulsion of twenty-five diplomats at the Soviet mission to the UN. That was part of a three-year reduction in the Soviet UN staff demanded by the administration. Officials would not comment on whether the five Americans were intelligence officers, but insist that they had done nothing improper, meaning they were not caught in any act of espionage. Some administration officials believe this is a test of wills between the US and the Soviet Union over what kind of intelligence presence each side will allow. 'In any case,' said one official, 'the Soviet action is illegitimate and shouldn't go without a response.' I'm Jim Angle in Washington."


The citizens of the troubled African nation of Mozambique are in shock tonight and waiting to hear who will be leading their country in the coming months. The leader of that southern African country Samora Machel died last night as his plane apparently attempted a crash landing inside South Africa just half a mile from the Mozambican border. Twenty-eight others also died in the crash. The death of Machel and the location of the crash have raised serious questions about South Africa's possible role in the crash, and about the future stability of the region. NPR's John Madison has more from Johannesburg.
President Machel died within a few minutes drive from the place that he and South African President P.W. Botha made famous, Nkomati, the village that gave its name to a historic nonaggression pact between the white minority government and its black Marxist neighbor in 1984. twenty-eight people are believed to have died in the crash last night. Only ten survived; all but one are in serious condition. Bodies were strewn around the plateau on which the President's jet appears to have tried to make a forced landing. In the wreckage, only the tail of the fuselage is identifiable as the remains of an airplane. Most of the dead were senior members of Machel's government, and one was Zaire's Ambassador to Mozambique. With news of the crash, suspicion was immediately cast on South Africa. The war of words between the two has escalated in recent weeks bringing relations to an all-time low since the Nkomati Accord was signed two years ago. The timing of the tragedy could hardly have been worse for regional stability. The past two weeks have seen escalating South Africa charges and threats against Mozambique. On October 6, a land mine exploded in South Africa near the border, injuring six South African soldiers. Two days later South Africa's Defense Minister warned Machel that South Africa would fight with everything at its disposal. He pointedly said Machel held the fate of Nkomati Accord in his hands. Then ten days ago, South Africa announced it was barring Mozambique's sixty-three thousand workers from South Africa, thus cutting off Mozambique's main supply of foreign exchange. South Africa's outlawed African National Congress today blamed South Africa for being directly of indirectly responsible for the crash. They pointed out that South Africa has backed the Mozambique resistance movement of Ronomo, which was currently conducting a military offense against the Mozambique government. They said either South Africa or Renamo caused the crash. Renamo, for its part, denied this responsibility but made no bones about its pleasure at Machel's demise. "The death of President Machel removes the main obstacle to peace," a spokesman for Ronomo in Lisbon said. "And he was personally running a war against us. We are happy to hear of his death." The anti-apartheid United Democratic Party Front spokesman Murphy Moroby said the South African government would have to prove it was not involved. The South African government says international investigators are welcome to assist in the investigation. Whatever caused the crash, leaders in the region are scrambling to understand its consequences. Machel was a charismatic leader, who brought his country to independence in 1975. And there is no obvious successor. Mozambique is one of the weakest of South Africa's immediate neighbors. And there are questions about whether Machel's ruling party FRELIMO can remain in power without him. I'm John Madison in Johannesburg.


In New York City's Lincoln Center this week, applause and just a few boos for this year's New York Film Festival. In its twenty-four year history, the festival has played host to the American premiers of such films as The Last Picture Show , Last Tango in Paris and Chariots of Fire . It has also given an exposure to hundreds of foreign and low-budget movies which might otherwise have gone unnoticed in this country. This year's schedule includes both obscure films and movies which seem destined for commercial success. Film critic Bob Mondello has been in attendance this week and he says, "A more accurate title for the event might have been 'the New York Film Critics' Festival.'"
"Critics don't usually travel in packs. There are three hundred of us at this thing, and everybody is watching the film at once. And it's a kind of strange to be hearing them reacting as human beings rather than seeing these things in individuals screenings."
"Do the critics then get to talk with the people who actually made the film? Is that the point of the festival?"
"Well, that's kind of it. I think the most interesting thing should be those interviews afterwards. But critics are not, by nature, social beings sometimes. And when they're sitting down in a large group, you kind of ... you're torn between wanting to ask some probing questions and ask something really silly. And sometimes the questions they ask are very strange. For instance, David Burn of Talking Heads, the rock group, has made a movie called True Stories . Now, it's his first picture. He might conceivably have some interesting things to say about music and movies. He might conceivable have some interesting things to say about being a newcomer to movie-making. But for some reason, someone asked him about a scene where some of his actors get dipped in chocolate. So he ended up doing a couple of minutes on something that's not really his field, a substance called bentonite."
"It has the chemical consistency of chocolate, but it's a lot cheaper and it'll flow without being heated up. So you don't scald yourself when you jump into it. It's a curious liqueur that was ... They use if they pump it down into ... when they drill for oil, and it brings up the loose grave and things, because it's heavier than rock. It's also used to thicken the filling in jelly donuts."
"Now, that's probably more than you ever thought you'd want to know about that particular aspect of film-making."
"It's nice to have that technical not. David Burn had the film When Talking Had Stopping Making Sense ,the documentary, a couple of years ago. He had a lot to do with the production of that. Does this one, which apparently is a feature film, does it work? What are the reviews?"
"Well, I'm not ... the film hasn't actually opened anywhere yet. We're ... the critics saw it the other day. It's pretty good. It's kind of a goofy picture. It's set in a small town called Burgell, Texas, which doesn't actually exist. And they're having a celebration of specialness. And I think only David Burn would come up with ideas like having a fashion show that features a suit made out of Astroturf which is kind of fun."
"How many films at the Festival?"
"There are twenty-four and a bunch of shorts. Actually, the only thing I saw that got hissed ... the audience reaction when you're sitting with a lot of critics can be very interesting, and everyone hissed one called Girls in Suits , which was a sort of My Dinner with Andre , I guess you could call it. It was two women talking about their affairs for twenty minutes, and it was excruciating, I thought."
"One of the films at the festival I'm looking forward to seeing when it comes around the country is Round Midnight , a film done with saxophone player Dexter Gordon, an American who's been living in Paris for many years."
"Yea, and it's likely to be the real toast of the Festival. It's the one thing about which no one can think of anything negative to say. It is a beautiful motion picture. It's made by Bertrand Tavernier, who is just an extraordinary film-maker. And in this particular instance, it's, you know, Dexter Gordon's first film role, his first acting role, really. And he's ... it's very interesting to see him. I mean he hasn't ... You're used to hearing him play the saxophone, but you've almost never heard him speak. Let's just play a clip from it, so that you have some idea. He's a saxophonist who is killing himself with drink. And this is sort of the morning after one of those days.
—Never, never again, man. Don't cry for me. Never again, Franz.
—What else can I do when you are killing yourself?
—I'll stop.
—Stop?
—I promise.
—Al, you never stopped before.
—I never promised anybody before.
"What's really interesting is seeing him in person too, because while he's talking—he was there at a press conference afterwards—and while he's talking, he moves his fingers in the air as if he were fingering his instrument. It's fascinating thing, because he's clearly improvising his answers, and he also does that sometimes in the film. It's, it's just fascinating to see. I think that's one of the reasons that the Festival is so interesting if you're a critic."
"So Round Midnight looks good. Also rare reviews so far for the Kathleen Turner film Peggie Sue Got Married , which will close, I understand the Festival on Sunday. Can you tell us from what you've seen there, are the next few months of American movie-going going to be worthwhile?"
"Oh, boy. I wish I could tell from just the films at the Festival. If only ... you see, a lot of these are not terribly commercial pictures. The ones that are, like Peggie Sue Got Married —I think that's going to be a hit in the same sort of way that The Big Chill , which opened the festival a couple of years ago, was. And there are a few others like that, like Menage by Bertrand Blier which looks to be a big foreign film, and Sid and Nancy has a commercial chance. That's about Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. So there's a possibility. It's really hard to judge from a film festival, though. These are not, for the most part, which you call mainstream films. As a matter of fact, that's the point of having them in the festival—to try and give them a chance with the public and get the awareness up."
"But a few great winners to see, anyway. Thanks, Bob Mondello, talking with us in New York."
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