News In Brief

"You have no right to criticize Russia," President Boris Yeltsin told leaders of a conference in Turkey, discussing his government's internationally condemned assault against Chechnya. In a speech to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Yeltsin said his troops were "obliged" to end the spread of terrorism by Islamic mercenaries based in the breakaway region. He then abruptly cut short a private meeting with other heads of state and flew home, although aides denied he did so out of anger.

The ousted leader of Pakistan's government, not seen in public since Oct. 12, is expected to be arraigned today in one of his own antiterrorism courts for treason, airline hijacking, and attempted murder. Conviction carries a maximum sentence of death. The military says Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif refused a plane returning Gen. Pervez Musharraf from an overseas trip permission to land. It finally did, with only minutes worth of fuel left, after soldiers seized the airport at Karachi. The special courts were set up by Sharif's government to speed the trials of accused terrorists.

No more money will be provided for Nazi-era slave laborers by German companies that exploited them, an industry source said. He told radio interviewers in Bonn that despite a three-week recess in negotiations to mull over the size of a compensation fund, "the end of the flagpole has been reached." As the talks stopped, the companies were liable for $2.6 billion of the $4.2 billion Germany was offering the surviving laborers, although the sides discussed upping the sum to $5.3 billion. Lawyers for the more than 1.5 million survivors are seeking about $7.9 billion.

In a new blow to his country's democratic institutions, Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez bypassed the opposition-controlled Congress and sent his proposed 2000 budget directly to the hand-picked Constitutional Assembly. The latter, charged with rewriting the national charter, has declared itself Venezuela's supreme authority. Of its 131 members, all but 10 are avowed Chvez supporters and are expected to pass his $26 billion spending plan easily. Elected lawmakers complain that the budget contravenes numerous laws under the existing Constitution.

Cocaine abuse has almost tripled among Mexicans in the 10 years since the country became the preferred route for shipments between Colombia and the US, reports said. Ernesto Enriquez of a government program that funds addict-rehabilitation centers told an international narcotics seminar that while most users were males between 18 and 34, the ratio of women seeking treatment has grown from 1 in 13 in 1998 to 1 in 8 today. Mexico became the main conduit for cocaine when the US Coast Guard cracked down on smuggling at sea in the 1980s.

Hurricane Lenny's unusual backward trajectory - from west to east - was ripping up an area of the Caribbean from Colombia to the Dutch island of St. Maarten. The late-season storm, with top winds of 150 m.p.h., was blamed for at least four deaths, severe beach erosion on tourism-dependent islands, and heavy flooding.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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