News Currents

MIDDLE EAST

Iraq and some of its Gulf war allies yesterday boycotted an economic coordination meeting in Cairo of Arab economy and finance ministers, a day after deciding not to attend talks with the UN in Vienna on the possible resumption of Iraqi oil sales abroad.... Israel's parliament set the stage for early general elections, and the opposition Labor Party said it would freeze Jewish settlement in the occupied territories if elected.... Wafra oil field, in the Neutral Zone between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, is ex pected to resume production later this month at an initial rate of 50,000 barrels per day.

UNITED STATES

A team of scientists and archaeologists reported in Los Angeles they believe they have discovered the lost city of Ubar, which legend says was swallowed up in sand, in the Arabian desert. The discovery in Oman was made possible by radar-produced images from space.... Congress approved Tuesday a $2.7 billion bill extending unemployment payments to jobless Americans, and President Bush promised to sign it immediately.... Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan says interest rates have been cut enough

to spur economic recovery, but he does not rule out further reductions.... US car and light-truck sales soared 15.6 percent in the final 10 days of January, but Japanese "transplants" grabbed more market share.... Ralph Lauren and Liz Claiborne designed the clothes, but it was the Gambino brothers and their Mafia enforcers, the "Bruise Brothers," who controlled New York's fashion industry, a prosecutor said Tuesday in an opening statement in the state extortion and corruption trial of Thomas Gambino.

AFRICA

A UN special envoy has flown to the Somali capital of Mogadishu to broker peace talks in the continuing civil war there.... The Sudanese Army reports it has destroyed two main camps of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army.... Middle-class whites are building barricades around the South African suburb of Bloubosrand, 20 miles north of Johannesburg, to keep out homeless blacks.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

Dissident Chinese workers, trying to organize a free union in the style of Poland's Solidarity, have mailed out 2,000 copies of their antigovernment manifesto.... Burmese dissidents say pop star Michael Jackson should begin his "Heal the World" tour by getting his PepsiCo sponsors to stop investing in junta-controlled Burma.... Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry has asked makers of electronic goods to save money by cutting the number of times they redesign their products.... Chinese res taurant owner Sadao Hachiya in Tokyo may have succeeded where Japan's high-tech earthquake warning system failed. His small pet carp hid in a pipe in his tank before a recent quake, the same place he hid before a 1989 quake.

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