News In Brief

Tensions in Northern Ireland increased ahead of the "Twelfth of July," the climax of the Orange Order's annual season of marches. Demonstrations were reported in a half-dozen towns, and Protestant loyalists blocked roads across the province in continuing protest of the ban on an Orange Order parade through a Catholic neighborhood in Portadown. Violence flared at night - as it has for more than a week - between hard-liners and police. Pro-Irish Catholic extremists, meanwhile, were suspected of an arson attack on an Orange Hall in the town of Aghalee, southwest of Belfast.

As expected, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak survived - narrowly - a no-confidence vote by parliament before the Camp David peacemaking summit between him and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat began. As he departed for Washington, Barak campaigned for public support in a front-page letter in the country's Yediot Ahronot newspaper, saying he was "the emissary of the citizens of Israel."

Fiji rebel supporters seized the upscale resort where "The Blue Lagoon" was filmed, worsening the nation's government crisis with the first attack on a foreign-owned facility. Some 40 tourists, including 19 Australians, had been staying at the resort, owned by American Richard Evanson. Reports indicated they would be allowed to leave by today. Those conducting the seizure said they were aligned with George Speight, who's been holding members of the government hostage for seven weeks but has agreed to let them go tomorrow. Some questioned, however, whether the rebel affiliation was claimed in order to take advantage of amnesty being offered for political crimes.

The former police chief of Iran's capital and 17 members of his force were acquitted of charges related to the storming of a university hostel last summer. The verdict brought swift condemnation from reformist activists and followed unrest over the weekend as the raid's first anniversary was marked. Two other policemen were convicted in the trial, however - one for taking part in the raid and another for stealing from the hostel in Tehran.

For the second time in three months, Russian authorities seized files from the offices of Media-Most, which has often has been critical of the Kremlin. The arrest and brief detainment of its owner, Vladimir Gusinsky, last month prompted an international outcry. Interfax news agency quoted a justice ministry official as saying the latest action was connected with ongoing investigations into alleged embezzlement of state funds by Gusinsky.

Fire burned out of control after a pipeline explosion in southern Nigeria that killed about 250 villagers, who had been scooping up gasoline with buckets. No fire crews had arrived at the scene some 24 hours after the explosion - apparently because the usual practice for the frequent fire outbreaks in the areas is to cut off the flow in the pipes and let the flames burn out. Officials were quoted as saying the initial leak was caused by vandals who punctured the line.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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