News In Brief

Seventy percent of Yugoslavia was without electricity after NATO used a secretive new explosive that short-circuited much of the power grid without otherwise damaging it. But there also were reports that for the second time in three days a NATO explosive struck a bus, causing heavy casualties. The report could not immediately be confirmed. Meanwhile, another senior Serb politician predicted President Milosevic would bow to international pressure for an end to the Kosovo crisis within three weeks.

At least 19 people died and as many as 116 others were hurt as new violence erupted in the Indonesian province of Aceh, reports said. Military spokesmen described an exchange of gunfire between troops and civilians. But witnesses said hundreds of soldiers had converged on a village in search of a sergeant who was being held hostage. Resentment of the Army is high in Aceh, despite an apology earlier this year for past atrocities. The province has been home to a low-level separatist insurgency for years.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have found a long-sought issue to inject momentum into his reelection bid because of a slur directed at his traditional voter base, analysts said. He was trailing Labor Party challenger Ehud Barak in opinion polls until a prominent actress and Barak supporter dismissed his constituents - mostly Sephardic Jews of Middle Eastern descent - as "riffraff" at a campaign rally. Barak did not distance himself from the remark until a day later, by which time Netanyahu was using it in a new ad. An almost identical incident in 1981 helped to turn an election campaign into victory for Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

The victory of Panama's first woman president was being called especially sweet because she defeated the son of the Army general who overthrew her husband 31 years ago. Ruling-party candidate Martin Torrijos conceded defeat to coffee-company owner Mireya Moscoso, who campaigned on pledges to slow the privatization of state enterprises and keep politics out of the operation of the Panama Canal. She's scheduled to accept control of the canal from the US Dec. 31. Her late husband, President Arnulfo Arias, was ousted in a 1968 coup led by Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera.

"Substantive" new peace negotiations between the main force of leftist rebels and the Colombian government are to begin Thursday, a joint announcement said. Earlier talks, in January, broke down almost as soon as they began. Without elaborating, the two sides said they'd found "concrete advances" in the peace process and appealed for patience during the new negotiations.

The challenge of forming a new government in Turkey opened with a harsh confrontation between Prime Minister-designate Bulent Ecevit and a female Islamic member of parliament. Ecevit, who's being looked to as a unifier of opposing political forces, pointedly attacked Merve Kavakci, who arrived to take her oath of office wearing a traditional Muslim head scarf. The move angered many of her colleagues. Ecevit accused her of challenging Turkey's secular order, broke off the swearing-in in protest, and vowed to campaign for a strict dress code.

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