ISRAEL DECIDES TO BUILD 3,000 HOMES Israel approved plans for more than 3,000 new homes in Jewish settlements around Jerusalem yesterday, despite protests from the United States and the Palestinians that settlements obstruct peace efforts. The government's move cast a further pall over the troubled Israel-PLO autonomy talks, which were further strained by a weekend bombing attack that killed 19 Israelis. A decision on construction meant to affirm Israel's claim to the greater Jerusalem area was planned before the militant Islamic Jihad group carried out that attack. Chechen fighting

Russian troops launched new rocket and artillery attacks yesterday on southern Grozny, while Russia's Security Council met in Moscow to discuss the future of the military operation in Chechnya. Greenspan warns Congress

Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan yesterday warned a president and Congress intent on cutting taxes not to balloon the federal budget deficit and risk igniting inflation and soaring interest rates. Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee a day after President Clinton stressed tax relief in his State of the Union message, Mr. Greenspan said the nation must be vigilant against widening the deficit. Bangladesh protests

Opposition activists trying to force the resignation of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia set off crude bombs yesterday during a nationwide strike that shut down cities across Bangladesh.

Such strikes have become common during the 10-month campaign of protests by the opposition, which accuses Ms. Zia's government of corruption and is demanding new elections.

Huge robbery in Dublin

Five gunmen used jeeps to knock down the doors of an armored car company in Dublin Tuesday night, then escaped with up to $6.3 million in cash in one of Ireland's largest robberies ever.

Mexico: no conditions

Mexico won't take a $40 billion US aid package if it requires a renegotiation of NAFTA, the sale of its oil monopoly, or other steps that violate Mexico's sovereignty, President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon says. Opponents of the aid package in the US Congress would attach requirements about rights for Mexican workers, the sale of the national Pemex oil company, and other conditions. No missile downing

A Russian news agency's erroneous report that Russian forces had shot down a combat missile launched from northern Europe set off widespread alarm bells yesterday. The Interfax news agency later said its report was wrong, and the ``missile'' appeared to have been a Norwegian research rocket launched away from Russia. Rose crop in jeopardy

California's gloomy weather is threatening the supply of red roses for Valentine's Day. More than half of the US's commercial roses grow in greenhouses south of San Francisco in an area hit by a relentless string of Pacific storms. Experts say it's the lack of sun - not the rain - that has hurt the flowers.

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