News In Brief

Fewer than 100 people in East Timor have died in violence triggered by the referendum on autonomy, Indonesia's armed forces chief insisted. Gen. Wiranto, rejected reports that the number of casualties was in the thousands. But he said the state of martial law imposed by the Jakarta government would be superseded by the UN intervention force once it was fully in place. Wiranto's troops watched in amusement as the first 1,000 peacekeepers, arriving in heavy battle fatigues, sweltered in Timor's tropical heat.

NATO's top commander was summoned to try to persuade former Kosovo guerrillas that they must agree to a final demobilization plan. American Gen. Wesley Clark flew to Pristina, the capital, when leaders of the 10,000-strong, ethnic-Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army decided against signing the agreement that calls for the force to be transformed into a civil protection corps. The signing deadline, midnight Sunday, was extended by 48 hours.

With most of their demands not met, students returned for the new academic year at Tehran University, the epicenter of July's violent pro-democracy protests. Workers repaired the physical damage to campus buildings after police and Islamic hard-liners broke up a peaceful protest. But at least one student died in the assault, dozens of others were hurt, 1,000 were arrested, and an unknown number remain missing and are presumed dead. No action has been taken against the police or so-called "pressure groups" of Islamic vigilantes despite student demands that they be punished.

The latest third-place finish in a state election is a "bitter defeat," German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder conceded. But despite Sunday's trouncing of his Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Saxony, Schrder vowed to stick with his unpopular economic austerity plan and ruled out making changes in his Cabinet lineup. The SDP finished with just under 11 percent of the vote in Saxony, behind the Christian Democrats and a former communist party. It was the fourth decisive election loss this month. The party holds its convention in December, and analysts said it would not be surprising if Schrder was dumped as leader.

An even greater willingness to intervene in global trouble spots was sought by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as he addressed world leaders at the opening of the General Assembly's annual session. Annan argued that in protecting civilians unwillingly caught up in violent conflicts, UN members must be ready to act even when their own interests aren't at stake. He contrasted the UN's inability to agree on a common strategy in Kosovo with its quick, unanimous vote to send peacekeepers to East Timor.

Raisa Gorbachev, who died in a Mnster, Germany, hospital, was both widely admired and heavily criticized during her years as first lady of the Soviet Union. Western leaders and commentators saw her as the first wife of a Soviet leader to capture public imagination with her outgoing manner and preference for high fashion. But ordinary Russians resented her luxurious life style - especially as the Soviet Union was collapsing - and what they perceived as unseemly interference in her husband Mikhail's work.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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