News In Brief

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was attempting to build a new alliance with an old coalition partner, the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, after efforts to lure right-wing leader Ariel Sharon into his government collapsed. But Shas leader Eli Yishai, whose party left the governing coalition in July, warned that its support would be withdrawn again if Barak resumed peace negotiations with the Palestinians on the basis of those that failed at Camp David. Sharon, meanwhile, vowed to do "everything" possible to bring down Barak's government after being denied a veto over peace terms.

The first resident crew of the International Space Station was en route to the $60 billion orbiter after liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Station commander Bill Shepherd of the US and two Russians are scheduled to reach the laboratory tomorrow for a four-month stay. The mission was almost two years behind schedule due to Russian economic troubles.

The possibility of exploratory discussions with the newly elected leader of Kosovo was held out by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica. But he said independence for the Albanian-dominated province was out of the question because it would be "very dangerous for stability" in the region. He also repeated a vow not to accept the outcome of the election, a victory for moderate Albanian Ibrahim Rugova of the Democratic League of Kosovo, since Serbs in the province had not voted.

A slick, possibly from leaking chemicals or fuel, was reported on the sea off France's Atlantic coast after a cargo ship sank. The ship was carrying 6,000 tons of toxic solvents, isopropyl alcohol, and styrene, which is used in making plastics and rubber. The accident was the most prominent of many blamed on fierce storms that have raked Western Europe since Sunday.

A national election appeared likely not later than Jan. 6 in Thailand after Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai said he'd disband the lower house of parliament next week. Legislation restricting the powers of the nation's elections commission - the last obstacle to a new vote - was upheld by the Constitutional Court. The measure is aimed at rooting out fraud and corruption in Thai politics.

Going door to door, authorities in Mexico began the process of evicting hundreds of US and Canadian nationals from their homes on disputed Baja California peninsula land. Backed by about 500 police, the officials gave the residents, many of them retirees, only minutes to abandon the properties. The move was authorized last week by Mexico's Supreme Court, which ruled that the land had been taken wrongfully from a Mexican company in 1973.

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 747 taking off in a typhoon from Taipei, Taiwan, crashed and caught fire as the Monitor went to press. The flight was bound for Los Angeles with a reported 179 people aboard.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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