News In Brief

Its earlier denials to the contrary, clear indications appeared that Russia's military was gearing up for a full-scale ground assault against Chechnya, which is suspected of harboring Islamic insurgents. Up to 50,000 troops and police have been deployed along the Russian-Chechen border, which a senior commander told a news conference were "more than enough" resources for an invasion. Meanwhile, Russian jets hit an oil refinery, a TV complex that was under construction, and a school in the sixth straight day of air attacks against the capital, Grozny.

A mock trial by antigovernment protesters found President Slobodan Milosevic, his wife, and top political allies guilty of ruining the Yugoslav state. But analysts said the demonstration of perhaps 15,000 people in Belgrade, the capital, fell short of the massive turnout of the previous night and so far posed no serious threat to Milosevic, who has survived several previous challenges to his rule. As if to show his lack of concern, Milosevic made a rare public appearance at the official reopening of an oil refinery destroyed early this summer by NATO bombing.

Despite reports that he has lost his grip on power, Indonesia's ruling Golkar Party said its candidate for president in November's election would be the incumbent, B.J. Habibie. His vice presidential running mate is likely to be the controversial armed forces chief, Gen. Wiranto, a Golkar spokesman said. Habibie, who is widely disliked by the powerful military, was viewed by diplomats as little more than a figurehead as Indonesia lost control over the political crisis in East Timor.

A bitter, five-month strike appeared over as workers for the largest North American electric utility, Hydro Quebec, and their employer reached a tentative contract settlement. The company wouldn't say how much revenue it lost in the dispute over a pay hike. Throughout the hot summer, Hydro Quebec customers in the northeastern US worried that it would be unable to deliver enough power to meet demand.

Amid worries of a negative impact on the vital tourism industry, an urgent meeting was set for today between bus operators and the South African government after the sixth major highway accident in a less than a week. The latest, injuring 21 passengers, occurred after a bus failed to stop at an intersection near King Williams Town in Cape province. On Monday, 26 British tourists and a South African guide died when their bus rolled off a steep mountain pass near Kruger National Park. In all, the accidents have killed 59 people.

To soften resistance to its growth, the religious group accused of the deadly 1995 gas attack on a Tokyo subway plans a public statement that may acknowledge responsibility, a published report said. Aum Supreme Truth (Aum Shinri Kyo) appeared ready to concede that its members were behind the sarin-gas attack that killed 12 people and made thousands of others ill, the Yomiuri newspaper said. Aum Supreme Truth has been regrouping since criminal charges were brought against some of its members, but the Japanese government is preparing legislation to restrict its activities.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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