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News In Brief

(Page 2 of 2)



A presidential runoff election between an ally and a foe of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was held in Montenegro. Milosevic's proxy, Momir Bulatovic, edged challenger Milo Djukanovic in a vote Oct. 5, but failed to win an absolute majority. Analysts say a win by the reform-minded Djukanovic could lead to Milosevic's downfall.

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Thailand's finance minister, Thanong Bidaya, threatened to resign after the government rescinded an oil tax imposed to help the country out of its economic crisis. Public outrage led Prime Minister Chavalit Yong-chaiyudh to scrap the tax late last week, only three days after he announced it. Thanong said the funds generated by the tax are necessary to meet revenue demands set by the International Monetary Fund as part of its $17 billion rescue package.

Handing over notorious Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot for trial on genocide charges would be "no problem," the group said in a broadcast from hiding in Cambodia. But it said if an international tribunal heard Pol Pot's case, then Cambodian Prime Minister and coup leader Hun Sen also should be tried for "crimes, treason, and mass killings of the Cambodian people." Pol Pot's former followers sentenced him to life imprisonment for treason in June, although some analysts say the move may have been a propaganda ploy.

A discovery by British scientists could lead to the production of headless human clones, The Sunday Times of London reported. Scientists at Bath University say the method they used to create a frog embryo without a head could be combined with the recently discovered cloning technique to grow human organs and tissue for transplantation. Some scientists and ethicists accused the embryologists of meddling with nature.

Rival Kurdish groups in northern Iraq traded angry words over the cease-fire that began late last week. The Kurdistan Democratic Party accused the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of an artillery attack that killed 10 of its followers over the weekend. The PUK said its fighters would retaliate unless captured territory was returned. The truce, brokered by the US, was another in a long series since fighting between the two sides broke out in 1994.

US drug policy adviser Barry McCaffrey met with government officials in Bolivia, where one-third of the world's cocaine is produced. After flying to the main cocaine producing region 500 miles south of La Paz, McCaffrey watched as soldiers destroyed illegal coca fields and incinerated $15 million worth of refined cocaine. Bolivia has pledged to eliminate coca-leaf cultivation within five years and must destroy 17,000 acres of the crop by the end of the year or face the loss of US aid.

It is morally regressive to create a mutant form of life."

- Oxford University ethicist Andrew Linzey, on the development of a headless frog embryo by British scientists.

Etceteras

If you got a Christmas card from Tung Chee Hwa last year, be advised that you're now off his list. As a matter of fact, everybody else is, too. The chief executive of Hong Kong has notified the environmental group Friends of the Earth by letter that he will send no official cards this year in an effort to help save trees. It is not known whether the letter was written on recycled paper.

Imagine the look on the insurance agent's face when Gael Bissell filed a damage claim. It seems the Missoula, Mont., resident and her family were at their cabin near Glacier National Park when a grizzly bear happened by. It headed straight for their Ford Explorer, smashed a window, climbed inside, chewed up the seats, and left. Bears forage resolutely for food this time of year to put on fat for winter hibernation: Perhaps someone in the family had spilled French fries. Yes, the claim was accepted.

The Day's List

Rating Privately Held Powerhouse Companies

A toothbrush with fast-moving bristles pushed Optiva Co. to the top of Inc. magazine's list of the 500 fastest-growing privately held businesses in the US. The publication's top 10:

1. Optiva, Bellevue, Wash. (makes "sonic" toothbrushes)

2. Duke & Co., New York (investment banking, placement, initial public offering services)

3. Natural Gas Transmission Services, Dallas (markets/trades natural gas and electricity)

4. Scrip Plus, Fresno, Calif. (provides funding resources)

5. Accord Human Resources, Oklahoma City (provides employee-leasing services)

6. New Work Technologies, Ashland, Mass. (develops computer software)

7. TH Properties, Franconia, Pa. (develops residential properties)

8. Commercial Financial Services, Tulsa, Okla. (restructures, collects loans)

9. International Profit Associates, Buffalo Grove, Ill. (management consulting services)

10. PhotoDisc, Seattle (publishes digital stock photographs online and on CD-ROM)

- Associated Press