News In Brief

Rumors that Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov might be fired came true as he and all but one of his Cabinet ministers were dismissed by President Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin said the dismissal was because of Primakov's failure to rescue Russia's floundering economy. But skeptics argued it was more likely out of resentment that impeachment hearings against Yeltsin were about to begin in parliament. Yeltsin nominated Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin to succeed Primakov, but his prospects for approval by parliament were poor, analysts said.

Picking his way through a driveway strewn with debris, Ambassador James Sasser left the US Embassy in Beijing for the first time since angry anti-American protests began last weekend. Local streets were quiet, with many Chinese preferring to watch the remains of their own embassy staffers killed in Yugoslavia being brought home. Meanwhile, on a visit to Beijing, German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder added his apology to those of the US for last week's bombing.

The third-largest political party in Israel took a calculated risk in endorsing Prime Minister Netanyahu for reelection. But the announcement by the Shas movement, which represents Orthodox Jews of Middle Eastern origin, was seen by analysts as unlikely to give Netanyahu's flagging candidacy a major boost since most religious Jews are expected to vote for him anyway. Opposition candidate Ehud Barak has said if he wins Tuesday's election he won't offer Shas a role in his government as long as its current leaders are in place.

Daily pro-independence protests in East Timor are not "a show of courage" and must stop, jailed separatist leader Xanana Gusmao said. Gusmao, under house arrest in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, said the rallies give militias loyal to Indonesia "a pretext to kill people." Four more deaths have been report-ed this week. Meanwhile, in the troubled territory, 500 people attended an ecumenical prayer service for peace led by Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist clerics.

The renewed offensive by UNITA rebels in Angola has advanced to within 40 miles of the capital, Luanda, a senior commander said. Journalists agreed the claim likely was valid because of refugees who've fled there from outlying areas where UNITA forces had engaged government troops. But an assault on the city is considered problematic because much of its surrounding terrain is open and flat. UNITA also was reported to be advancing on a key oil-producing region north of the capital. Oil provides President Jose Eduardo dos Santos's government with most of its revenue.

The popularity of Prime Minister Tony Blair and most of his top Cabinet ministers has slid significantly among Britons, a new opinion survey showed. The poll, in the Guardian newspaper, indicated Blair fell below his Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, in the view of respondents. She drew a 56 percent rating; Blair's was 34 percent - 14 points lower than a year ago.

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