News In Brief

Reversing its previous position, the Canadian government said additional security precautions would be taken at airports and around the US Embassy in Ottawa against possible terrorists. The measures came after criticism from members of Parliament and a prominent US congressman that Canada was lax in guarding its border. Until the recent arrests of two Algerians traveling on false passports and suspected of transporting explosives into the US from Canada, the Ottawa government had insisted its antiterrorism measures were sufficient.

The risk taken by Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumara-tunga in calling a national election 11 months early paid off as voters rewarded her with a new six-year term. She defeated her closest rival, Ranil Wickreme-singhe, by a 51 percent to 43 percent margin. In an emotional swearing-in ceremony, Mrs. Kumaratunga, wounded last weekend in an assassination attempt by suspected Tamil separatist rebels, said "no individual on this earth is more determined than I to end this country's mindless bloodshed."

Looters were being arrested on sight by Army paratroopers in the 60-mile region of Venezuela devastated by last week's flooding and mudslides. President Hugo Chvez ruled out declaring a state of emergency to stop the scavenging but said penalties had been stiffened and reinforcements would join the search for suspects. Insurance carriers put property and infrastructure damage from the disaster at $2 billion and estimated that reconstruction would take years to complete.

Landlords in Madrid were asked to report any new tenants who appeared suspicious as the city contemplated how close it came to a car-bomb attack by Basque separatists over the holiday weekend. Authorities said 1,900 pounds of explosives found Tuesday in a van traveling to the capital were welded to the floor and had a digital timer set for 7:56 p.m. - although it was not clear on which day or what target was intended. The driver was identified as a member of the political party allied with the ETA guerrilla organization, which recently halted a unilateral truce in its fight for an independent Basque homeland.

Intense, all-night bargaining produced a new Cabinet lineup that acting Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema was to submit to votes of confidence in both houses of Italy's parliament. D'Alema failed to convince three small parties to rejoin his government, but added two ministers from a new party, the Democrats, headed by European Union chief Romano Prodi. Analysts said the new Cabinet was almost certain to be confirmed by the Senate but faced a close vote in the lower house.

Authorities refused to call the sudden shutdown of computer-driven radar in New Zealand's air-traffic control system an early outbreak of the so-called Y2K bug. Data disappeared from monitoring screens, leaving controllers with no idea of the status of flights in the nation's air space. Planes were ordered grounded at all airports, stranding thousands of passengers until a backup system was pressed into service. The main radar remained down for more than three hours.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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