News In Brief

Full blame for Sunday's incident involving a US Navy plane and a Chinese military jet lies with "the American side," President Jiang Zemin said in calling for an apology, an explanation, and an end to surveillance flights. US Ambassador Joseph Prueher said no apology would be forthcoming. Meanwhile, CNN reported that US officials on Hainan island finally were given access to the 24-person crew of the downed surveillance plane as the Monitor went to press. And, citing unnamed Pentagon sources, it said equipment from the plane was being removed by Chinese crews.

When he learns all the charges that can be brought against him by Yugoslav authorities, ex-President Slobodan Milosevic may volunteer for trial by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, a senior government official in Belgrade joked. But new President Vojislav Kostunica said such a transfer was not an option until Milosevic answers "to his own people." He said he hoped that stance wouldn't compromise newly OK'd US aid to Yugoslavia. Milosevic denounced his arrest as "politically staged," but officials say they have indications of his involvement in criminal acts that carry the death penalty.

Israeli soldiers now will initiate the shooting - and do so to kill - when they see armed Palestinians, a senior Army commander in the West Bank said. Sniper fire in recent days has brought violence in the area to a new level, Col. Marcel Aviv said. In a related development, Israel freed three of six members of the Palestinian security unit Force 17 who were arrested Sunday because "they are not involved in terrorist activity."

The TV news operation that has angered Russian officials was effectively under Kremlin control - its directors ousted by a government-owned utility. Despite a court order forbidding a meeting of shareholders in NTV, the largest, Gazprom, convened one anyway and placed six of its appointees on the station's nine-member board. NTV, whose coverage of sensitive issues has embarrassed the Kremlin, had been Russia's only independent station.

With the number of foot-and-mouth disease sites in Britain rising to 942, the opposition Conservative Party was pressuring Prime Minister Blair to put the Army in full charge of slaughtering affected animals. Conservative leader William Hague cited a backlog of 350,000 hogs, sheep, and cattle to be put down and said the Agriculture Ministry was "hopelessly overmatched" for the job. The crisis is considered certain to be a campaign issue in the coming general election, which Blair has postponed to June 7.

In a crushing legal defeat, ousted Philippines President Joseph Estrada was told by the Supreme Court that he's no longer the legitimate chief of state. The unanimous ruling strips him of all immunity from prosecution and clears the way for successor Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government to file charges against him for bribery, corruption, and plundering the treasury. The latter is punishable by death. Estrada was forced from office via a public uprising Jan. 20 but never signed a letter of resignation.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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