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News In Brief

By Compiled from wire service reportsRobert Kilborn and Judy Nichols / February 1, 2001



The conviction of one defendant for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 is "not the end of the world," Libya's Foreign Ministry said. Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi has two weeks to appeal the ruling by a Scottish court, which sentenced him to prison for the rest of his life. Codefendant Al-Amin Khalifa Fahimah was acquitted and freed to return home.

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Ending his self-imposed seclusion, ex-Philippines President Joseph Estrada appeared at a convention of his political party and claimed the office still is rightfully his. But other than ruling out the use of violence, he did not indicate whether he'd try to regain power. Following Estrada's remarks, senior defense officials reaffirmed their support of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, his successor, and warned against any plots to destabilize her government.

As expected, the vast demilitarized zone set aside for Colombia's largest leftist rebel group was extended by President Andres Pastrana - but only until Sunday. In an address to the nation, he asked Manuel Marulanda, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, to meet him so they could "untangle" the peace process that was broken off in November.

By a 134-to-70 vote, legislators passed a resolution condemning the decision by Taiwan's government to scrap a partly completed $5.5 billion nuclear power plant. The vote by the opposition-dominated parliament prolongs a standoff with Premier Chang Chun-hsiung's Cabinet, although it did not demand his resignation. Taiwan already has three such power plants, but the island is earthquake-prone and lacks processing facilities for nuclear waste.

"Deepest regrets" were offered by senior executives for Japan Airlines after two of its passenger jets narrowly missed colliding in the air 112 miles southwest of Tokyo. In emergency evasive action by the pilot of one of the planes, at least 35 passengers were injured, some of them seriously.

The first privately owned newspaper in 38 years will begin publication in Syria by the end of the month, a senior executive said. Plans call for Al-Doumari (Lamplighter) to be a 16-page weekly with the freedom to use satire in "shedding light on all sorts of mistakes" by the government, society, and the Arab world. Its arrival is seen as a sign of advancing political reform in a nation where all other media have been state-owned since 1963.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society