News In Brief

Israel was bracing for trouble on all fronts today as Palestinians planned rallies to mark the 53rd anniversary of Nakba, the founding of the Jewish state. This year's observance falls amid months of violence in which more than 500 people - most of them Palestinians - have died. Five of those occurred Monday when Israeli troops said they returned gunfire on a Palestinian police post in the West Bank - the worst single casualty count since mid-February.

While the army held its fire, Red Cross workers entered villages in Macedonia to try to evacuate civilians trapped in fighting with ethnic-Albanian insurgents. The operation followed parliament's OK late Sunday of a national unity government consisting of all four main political parties - two of them Albanian. The new coalition aims to provide stability while ways are sought to satisfy Albanian demands for more rights.

A nationwide TV appearance was scheduled by Italian billionaire politician Silvio Berlusconi amid indications that his conservative coalition would win majorities in both houses of parliament as a result of Sunday's election. If confirmed, the outcome almost certainly would return Berlusconi to the post of prime minister, which he held briefly in 1994. But Berlusconi's ally, the Northern League, attracted only about 4 percent of the vote, early returns showed.

The wife of ousted President Joseph Estrada appeared on her way to victory in congressional elections in the Philippines that were seen as a test of the his successor's legitimacy. Luisa Estrada is seeking a Senate seat as her husband awaits trial on a charge of plundering public funds. If she and other Estrada allies win their races, analysts said that will complicate new President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's already-difficult task of governing.

The Basque separatist movement blamed for years of political violence in Spain was punished by voters in regional elections that gave a resounding victory to moderate nationalists. The party widely seen as the political wing of ETA guerrillas, Euskal Herritarrok, was stripped of half the 14 seats it won in the Basque parliament in 1998, when a unilateral truce was in place. Analysts did not expect the election to change ETA's pattern of bombings and assassinations that have killed 800 people since 1968.

By Sept. 20, the raising of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk from the floor of the Barents Sea should be complete, the Kremlin said. The sub sank last August, killing all 118 crewmen. The remains of only 12 were recovered before conditions were deemed too dangerous to continue salvage operations. The raising, promised by President Putin, is expected to cost up to $80 million.

The tough restrictions on the movement of people and livestock were removed in the county in Britain where the first cases of foot-and-mouth disease were detected Feb. 20. The decision affects Essex, northeast of London, although the looser restrictions imposed nationwide remain in place. Reports said the number of new cases across Britain has dropped to fewer than 10 a day.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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