News In Brief

A day-old ban on popular pro-democracy publications in Iran was lifted for one of those involved. But hard-line conservative clerics issued an arrest warrant for a prominent supporter of reforms who participated in an international seminar on Iran. And they over- turned more results from last February's elections in which reformers scored impressive gains - the 11th time results from the voting have been nullified. Meanwhile, hundreds of university students cut classes in Tehran, the capital, to protest the publications ban.

Two more people in Zimbabwe, both of them supporters of the main opposition party, died in the country's ongoing political violence - one of them from a gunshot wound sustained last week. The fatalities were the fifth and sixth since April 15. The violence also threatened to delay today's opening of an annual tobacco auction, the No. 1 source of hard currency.

A year-long campaign of kidnappings, hijacking, and sabotage appeared to pay off for Colombia's second-largest leftist guerrilla group when the government agreed to withdraw troops from a 1,800-square-mile zone in exchange for peace negotiations. In announcing the deal with the National Liberation Army, President Andrs Pastrana did not say when the pullout or talks would begin. In 1998, he made an identical concession to the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, pulling soldiers from a region the size of Switzerland. But negotiations between the two sides have progressed at a snail's pace.

More than 100 Falun Gong followers were arrested and hustled out of Beijing's Tiananmen Square as they attempted to observe the first anniversary of their group's surprise demonstration that startled Chinese authorities. Police punched, tackled, and wrestled with would-be demonstrators, and forced at least one foreign tourist to rip film out of her camera in case she had photographed the scuffles. A government spokesman called the crackdown a success but said it would continue because foreign "forces" were influencing Falun Gong practitioners.

The prosecutors in next week's scheduled trial of the Lockerbie bombing defendants asked for a postponement. A spokesman for the Scottish Crown Office said the request came because lawyers for Libyans Lamen Khalifa Fhimah and Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi had introduced new evidence and added 119 names to their list of witnesses. The trial was to have opened May 3 at an ex- military base in the Netherlands that is designated as Scottish soil.

All scenes of people smoking were ordered off TV by the government of Thailand. The ban covers even imported cable programming from sources such as HBO, Cinemax, and the Discovery Channel. No starting date was announced, however. An estimated 42,000 Thais die from smoking-related illnesses each year, and as many as 10 million of the nation's 61 million people are believed to have developed the smoking habit despite an existing ban on cigarette advertising.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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