News In Brief

Friends of the Palestinian cause welcomed the decision to again delay the declaration of statehood by Yasser Arafat. But militant Palestinians denounced the move. Arafat was due in Cairo to brief Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on why he won't proclaim statehood tomorrow, as planned, opting instead to push the date back to at least Nov. 15. Israel and the US had warned of violence if the declaration came prior to a final peace deal. The postponement drew harsh criticism from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and others.

Spreading protests over the high cost of motor fuels halted traffic in Brussels and brought vows of stiff resistance from the British and German governments. In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair said he wouldn't follow the example of France, whose government bowed to demands last week to subsidize gasoline and diesel prices. At least 200 filling stations in Britain were closed after panic buying by motorists emptied their tanks. In Ireland, haulers planned protests Friday and next Monday unless the government agreed to cut taxes on diesel fuel by 20 percent.

At least one more crude-oil production increase was promised this year by OPEC if futures prices "get out of hand again." After announcing a 3 percent hike Sunday, a spokesman said the cartel would not wait until its next scheduled meeting, Nov. 12, to boost output. Despite the move, prices on world markets remained at or near their highest levels in a decade.

Five policemen and at least three others were hurt when a mostly good-natured protest outside the World Economic Forum in Melbourne, Australia, turned violent . Thousands of demonstrators blocked entrances to the meeting, forcing host Prime Minister John Howard to arrive by boat. An estimated 200 delegates were turned back, and the windows of a bus in which dozens of them were riding were smashed. Protest leaders said they oppose the "unacceptable" agenda of economic nationalism of major corporate leaders.

As much as $10 billion to help prop up the nation's deeply troubled healthcare system was expected to be offered to Canada's provincial premiers by Prime Minister Jean Chrtien. He was to meet with them in Ottawa to try to forge a deal that would restore funding lost due to federal cuts in the late 1990s while giving his government more of a say in how the money would be spent. Under the Constitution, healthcare is the responsibility of the provinces. A deal is seen as crucial for Chrtien, who has a burgeoning budget surplus available. But he also has only a slim majority in Parliament and must call a new national election next year.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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