News In Brief

Key African presidents were meeting with the UN Security Council and Secretary of State Albright in New York to try to produce a new commitment to peace in Congo. The session came as the Security Council is weighing whether and when to send a peacekeeping force to the volatile country, where last July's formal cease-fire is not holding. Congo President Laurent Kabila sent his foreign minister to the meeting rather than attend himself.

Canada, like the US, was subjected to years of nuclear espionage by Chinese agents, a Toronto newspaper reported. Quoting security sources, The Globe & Mail said the losses were not discovered until a University of Toronto scientist saw a virtual carbon copy of Canada's so-called "Slowpoke" reactor on a visit to Beijing in 1985. China later sold its version of the reactor to at least four other countries. Last year, Taiwan-born scientist Wen Ho Lee was fired from his job at Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico on suspicion of passing US nuclear secrets to China.

Basque separatist rebels are virtually certain to continue trying to "sow fear" across Spain as the nation's March 12 election approaches, Interior Minister Jaime Mayor Oreja warned. Despite Sunday's march in Madrid of an estimated 1 million people against Basque-inspired violence, Mayor Oreja said "the cruel logic is that they won't change their ways." The separatist group ETA (Basque Homeland and Liberty) is blamed for a car-bomb attack last Friday in the capital that killed an Army officer.

Only when their demands are met will rebels end their seizure of a large civilian hospital near the Thailand-Myanmar (Burma) border, a spokesman said. Gunmen believed to be from the Burmese insurgent movement known as God's Army wired the hospital gates with explosives and were holding hundreds of hostages, although dozens of others escaped out a back door or were freed in exchange for food. The rebels were demanding that Thailand's Army stop helping Burmese forces in shelling their base along the border and that Thai doctors come and treat their wounded.

Suspicion fell on vandals allied with ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide for four new attacks on election bureaus across Haiti. The incidents, dating back to last Thursday, resulted in the theft or burning of voting materials as registration opened for the March 16 election. Registration already had been delayed by a week because of earlier violence. The stolen or ruined materials were paid for with US funds.

Some of the world's most famous beaches - in Rio de Janeiro - were in the path of an advancing oil spill that emergency crews were racing to try to contain. The spill, measured at 343,200 gallons, is Brazil's worst environmental crisis in 25 years and already has coated ecological reserves, killing fish, birds, and other wildlife. The state-owned oil company, Petrobras, has been fined $28 million because of the disaster, but environmental groups were demanding even stiffer penalties for underestimating the amount of leakage from a ruptured underwater pipeline and for mounting a weak cleanup effort.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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