News In Brief

The transfer of millions of dollars in tax revenues Israel collects each month for the Palestinian Authority was ordered stopped by Prime Minister Ehud Barak. He said the move was made to pressure Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to abide by earlier truce agreements and would continue "as long as necessary." Arafat has complained that the Palestinian economy already is in dire condition because of Israeli quarantines. In turn, the Palestinian Authority owes Israel more than $2 million for power supplied to the Gaza Strip by the state-owned electric utility, an official said.

Full diplomatic relations with the US, Britain, France, and Germany were restored by the new government of Yugoslavia. Relations were broken March 25, 1999, by President Slobodan Milosevic when NATO began bombing strategic targets in Serbia and Kosovo. Under new President Vojislav Kostunica, Yugoslavia was accepted back into membership in the UN and has joined the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Earlier this week, Kostunica told leaders of the European Union he hopes to rebuild the nation's economy so it also can join their ranks.

All 22 members of the Senate will be sworn in Monday to serve as jurors for the impeachment trial of Philippines President Joseph Estrada, officials said. The opening of the trial also was set for Dec. 7, and the embattled president was given 10 days to respond to charges that he accepted more than $8 million in bribes, betrayed the public trust, and engaged in other "culpable violations of the Constitution." A two-thirds vote in the Senate is necessary to oust him from office.

Six hundred political prisoners were ordered freed by new Syrian President Bashir Assad in what observers said was a sign of new thinking by the nation's leadership. The amnesty came on the 30th anniversary of the revolution that brought his late father, Hafez Assad, to power.

The momentum for pushing aside Japan's unpopular prime minister appeared to be growing within his own Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as he attended an Asian economic conference in Brunei. LDP factions were searching for candidates to block Yoshiro Mori's leading rival, legislator Koichi Kato, who has threatened to join opposition lawmakers in voting against Mori in a no-confidence test in parliament. Rather than risk splitting the LDP, analysts said, the maneuvering made it likely that Mori would step down as soon as Dec. 1, when the current session of parliament ends, in return for Kato withdrawing his threat. Opinion polls show Mori's approval/disapproval ratings at 15 percent and 63 percent, respectively.

Confirming reports last month that the corroding, 14-year-old space station Mir would be allowed to plunge to Earth, the Russian Cabinet approved plans for a controlled descent into an "internationally safe" zone of the Pacific Ocean Feb. 27. Space agency chief Yuri Koptev said the decision was made because tests that would determine whether the orbiter was fit to remain aloft haven't been made and "any of its systems may now fail."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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