News In Brief

Hard-line challenger Ariel Sharon appears headed for a landslide victory in next week's Israeli election - possibly with more than 60 percent of the vote, a new opinion poll showed. Recent surveys have given the Likud party leader (laughing, above, as he delivers a campaign speech in the city of Ashkelon) a 16 percent to 20 percent lead over caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

New surcharges will be imposed on income and business taxes in India to help pay the costs of rebuilding after last week's earthquake, the government said. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee also rejected criticism that relief efforts were mismanaged. Meanwhile, the official count of deaths rose to more than 14,200, although some senior officials say they expect it eventually to reach 100,000. Another 600,000 are believed to have been left homeless.

The defendant who was acquitted of involvement in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 returned home to a hero's welcome in Libya. But prosecutors at his trial in the Netherlands maintained that codefendant Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who faces a life sentence in prison for the crime, "clearly ... did not act alone." Libya's ambassador to Britain said his government may consider paying compensation to families of the 270 people who died in the incident.

Legislators moved a step nearer to impeaching Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, voting 393 to 4 to accept the findings of a special probe implicating him in two multimillion-dollar scandals. And the party of Wahid's vice president, Mega-wati Sukarnoputri, appeared ready to join in a motion to censure him. The embattled president, however, was continuing to maintain that he is innocent and has wide public support.

In another slap at France, the government of Turkey told two consortia bidding on a major highway project they wouldn't be awarded contracts. The strain began last month when French lawmakers passed, and President Chirac signed, a measure declaring the 1915 mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as "genocide." Since then, Turkey has recalled its ambassador; stopped imports of wine and cheese from - and exports of wheat to - France; and canceled $350 million worth of contracts for a spy satellite and new electronics for its F-16 warplanes.

Criminal negligence and inexperience were being investigated as causes of the near-collision of two Japan Airlines jets - with evidence showing they missed each other by just 33 feet. Of the 677 people aboard the two flights Wednesday, 42 were hurt as one of the planes dived steeply to avoid the other. The incident took place at an altitude of 36,000 feet.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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