News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, Noel Paul, and Sara Steindorf

Emergency measures to deal with the spreading motor-fuel crisis were OK'd by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, but the situation was reported worsening there as well as in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Only 1 in 10 filling stations in Britain were said to have any gasoline left. The Reuters news agency obtained the draft of a statement by European Union foreign ministers aimed at calming panic by claiming last weekend's OPEC vote to hike production of crude oil "should contribute to greater stability in prices."

Secret trials are due to open today in four cities in a smuggling and kickback scandal that is considered the worst corruption case in communist China's 51-year history. The trials follow a 13-month investigation that has resulted in the arrests of hundreds of party officials and police allegedly on the payroll of the Yuanhua trading company, which smuggled an estimated $9.5 million worth of oil, cars, cigarettes, and luxury goods into China along its poorly policed southeastern coast.

No member of the Cabinet will meet a visiting UN delegation inquiring into the murders of three aid workers last week in West Timor, Indonesia's defense minister said. He said President Abdurrahman Wahid's government "cannot accept intervention like that" and would deal with the incident "internally." The stance appeared likely to deepen international condemnation of the attack on a UN mission by pro-Indonesia militiamen opposed to independence for East Timor. The World Bank told Wahid he must end the violence in West Timor, but denied threatening to suspend financial aid to Indonesia if he didn't.

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At least 50 more protesters were hurt after police charged a blockade preventing delegates from attending Day 2 of a World Economic Forum conference in Melbourne, Australia. Protest organizers accused authorities of using excessive force to disband the hundreds of demonstrators holding a vigil outside the hall. On Monday, protesters kept about 200 delegates from entering the conference, where Microsoft 's Bill Gates, among other business and government leaders, was to speak.

Hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to evacuate central Japan as torrential rains flooded 12,000 homes and caused 310 landslides. An estimated 23 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period around the city Nagoya, as typhoon Saomai moved within 60 miles of the southeast coastline. The downpour caused Toyota, Japan's No. 1 automaker, to suspend production.

Passage appeared certain for a bill that would confer the status of legal marriage on "registered same-sex partnerships" in the Netherlands. Only small Christian parties opposed the measure in parliament, which would give homosexuals "absolute first-in-the-world" equality with heterosexuals - with the right to be married in civil ceremonies, to adopt children, and to seek divorces in the courts.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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