After years of bitter partisan debate, the Texas Legislature approved a constitutional amendment that would transfer local property-tax money from rich school districts to poorer ones. The share-the-wealth measure now goes to the voters, who will decide its fate in a May 1 referendum.

The state courts have threatened to cut off state money to schools on June 1 unless an acceptable redistribution plan is approved by then. A cutoff of money could force many schools to close early.

In 1989, the Texas Supreme Court struck down the state's $14 billion-a-year school-funding system, first challenged as unfair by a group of parents in a 1968 lawsuit. Many other states have programs in which schools are supported largely by property taxes, and they, too, have faced similar lawsuits in recent years. Abortion in Poland

A law signed by Polish President Lech Walesa Feb. 15 bans abortion in all but limited circumstances, but activists on both sides of the issue say they are not satisfied. The law allows abortion only when the mother's life is endangered, in cases of rape or incest, or when the fetus is determined to be irreparably damaged. The new law puts Poland with Ireland in having Europe's most restrictive abortion laws. Nobel gathering

Eight Nobel Peace Prize winners gathered Feb. 16 in Thailand to press for the release of the 1991 prize winner, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, now in her fourth year of house arrest. Lithuanian president

Former Communist Party leader Algirdas Brazauskas marked his emergence as Lithuania's new president Feb. 15 with promises to speed up privatization and promote foreign investment. Mr. Brazauskas won the first presidential election since independence in 1991. China diplomacy

Chinese Defense Minister Qin Jiwei will visit Vietnam this month in a sign of a new relationship between countries that fought a border war in 1979. Beijing and Hanoi normalized ties in November 1991. North Korea nuclear sites

North Korea refused Feb. 16 to admit international inspectors to two suspected nuclear sites and accused the United States of spreading rumors about its atomic program to destabilize the country. The International Atomic Energy Association asked North Korea to open up the installations. As a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, North Korea is obliged to declare all fissionable nuclear materials. But it said the two sites are conventional military bases. Hunt for Escobar

Despite a $6.5 million reward, Colombian police have received no information on escaped drug lord Pablo Escobar. Police blame Mr. Escobar for a spate of recent car bombings in Medellin and Bogota that have killed dozens of people, including two explosions Feb. 15 that killed four and injured more than 100. The government says Escobar is trying to force the government into letting him run his empire freely. New Slovak leader

Former banker Michael Kovac was elected Slovakia's first president Feb. 15, ending a deadlock that threatened to destabilize the newly independent country. Mr. Kovac, elected by Parliament, was the last speaker of Czechoslovakia's federal parliament before the country split peacefully into Czech and Slovak states. Parliament failed in two tries last month to choose a head of state. Escaped prisoners

Brazilian police are searching the Amazon jungle for nine escaped prisoners, including two men convicted in the slaying of well-known rain-forest protector Francisco (Chico) Mendes. Police said the men sawed through cell bars in the loosely guarded prison.

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