News In Brief

Cases of foot-and-mouth disease were detected in nations as far-flung as Argentina, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, and - led by the US - a growing list of others were banning the import of meat from European Union members. In Britain, the number of outbreaks rose to 214, prompting worries that the summer tourist season would be negatively affected. Prime Minister Tony Blair was urged by rural leaders to postpone the nation's May 3 election.

Under a "day of rage," hundreds of Palestinians seized an Israeli Army checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah before being driven back by gunfire. At least 10 Palestinians were hurt in the protest over continuing travel restrictions, although Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said he'd work to lift them for both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But Ben-Eliezer said that did not mean the opening of Israel's borders, which have been sealed since the current round of violence began last Sept. 28.

The high-profile visit by Zapatista rebels to Mexico City to lobby for passage of major Indian rights legislation was making no noticeable progress. Subcomandante Marcos, the rebel leader, rejected as "humiliating" a proposal that he meet with key lawmakers, demanding permission to address the full Congress. Marcos also appeared to brush off a plea by new President Vicente Fox that he recognize Mexico now has "a different government with a different vision." Instead, he accused Fox of threatening force to crush the Zapatistas in Chiapas state, their base.

The closest challenger to incumbent President Yoweri Museveni rejected the results of Monday's voting in Uganda that, elections officials said, gave the latter a new five-year term. Museveni, the Electoral Commission said, won 69.3 percent of the vote, to 27.8 percent for his onetime ally, Kizza Besigye, who was expected to finish far closer. Alleging massive vote-rigging, Besigye vowed to challenge the outcome by "legal and political" means.

By a wide margin, members of parliament in Russia rejected a no-confidence motion in President Vladimir Putin, the first of his 14-month-old administration. The Communist Party-sponsored effort attracted only 127 of the 226 votes needed to pass, which, analysts said, gave Putin new leverage to keep the powerful lower house in check. The motion was based on alleged economic blunders by Putin's prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, and the government's handling of severe energy shortages during one of the coldest winters in 100 years.

Smarting from international outrage because of its destruction of ancient Buddhist statues, Afghanistan's Taliban movement expelled a prominent foreign journalist and closed her bureau in Kabul, the capital. The BBC's Kate Clark was accused of calling the Taliban "illiterate," while her associates have reported on the destruction campaign "unrealistically," a movement spokesman said.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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