News In Brief

Invading Russian forces now will seek to capture all of Chechnya, Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said. He said the Army "understands that no one will stop them" and there was no possibility of an order that would halt the offensive. Meanwhile, despite a backup of pushing and shoving refugees estimated at 10,000, guards again kept the border crossing into Ingushetia closed yesterday.

In smaller numbers than those of a week ago, Falun Gong followers returned to Beijing's Tiananmen Square to resume their silent protest at being labeled a cult by the government. But their vigil was again broken up by police about 100 yards from where German Chancellor Schrder was to attend an official welcoming ceremony later in the day. Schrder was expected to initiate a dialogue on human rights in his meetings with Chinese leaders, the German Embassy said, but it wasn't known whether he'd specifically mention Falun Gong.

Massive international help will be needed to rebuild cyclone-devastated Orissa "to normalcy," the Indian state's finance minister said. Damage to property alone could well top $10 billion, he said, with only the mining sector of the economy unaffected by the Oct. 29 storm's 155 m.p.h. winds and flooding. Only about 30 percent of Orissa's people had been reached by aid efforts, reports said.

Frequent one-to-one meetings were pledged by Israeli Prime Minister Barak and Palestinian Authority President Arafat as they approach their February deadline for producing the broad outlines of a permanent peace treaty. They left their summit in Oslo with President Clinton with a timetable that calls for special US envoy Dennis Ross to visit the Middle East twice a month between now and February - and Secretary of State Albright at least once during the period - to try to keep peace efforts on track.

A public-health furor was growing around new South African President Thabo Mbeki over his claim that the anti-AIDS drug AZT is unsafe. Mbeki told parliament last week that the drug is toxic and is being challenged in US court cases. The issue is of major concern in South Africa, which has one of the world's most serious AIDS caseloads. Mbeki ordered his health minister to supervise a government probe of AZT safety. His claims were angrily denied by the manufacturer, and medical practitioners in South Africa called them "very distressing."

Barring a major disaster or sudden downturn in the economy, Canada will have a (US) $45.5 billion budget surplus by the end of fiscal 2004 and must decide what to do with it, Finance Minister Paul Martin said. He told Parliament he'd propose a multi-year strategy in the spring to ease the nation's tax burden, one of the heaviest in the developed world. Canada's $2.3 billion budget surplus at the end of fiscal 1998 was its first in almost 30 years.

CORRECTION: An item in this space Nov. 2, erred in identifying the South American country that will require a runoff election for president. That election will be held Nov. 28 in Uruguay.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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