News In Brief

The political party of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was fined $3 million and subjected to a criminal investigation for its role in a campaign-funding scandal. Comptroller Eliezer Goldberg, in a report to parliament, said Barak's One Israel Party had "trampled on the law" in channeling funds to nonprofit groups campaigning for candidates in last year's national election. Other parties, among them ex-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud bloc, also are to be investigated.

The UN's new weapons-inspection chief for Iraq, Hans Blix, will receive no cooperation from the Baghdad government, a senior official vowed. The official said Iraq's problem was not with Blix personally but with the resolution that created the commission he's to head. Blix, the retired director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also was expected to be caught between two pressure groups. The US and Britain want him to build his staff with experts from UNSCOM, the UN's old mission in Iraq; France and Russia want him to start from scratch.

High-level meetings at the UN on peace in Congo were winding down amid signs that an official observer mission - if not a full-fledged force - soon may be authorized by the Security Council. In a statement, the council said consideration had begun of a resolution that would expand the 500-man unarmed mission currently there. All seven African heads of state at the talks said the truce in Congo would fail without armed peacekeepers.

"The active phase" of Russia's assault on Chechnya will end soon, a senior Kremlin official told members of the Council of Europe meeting in Brussels. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov was pleading the Kremlin's case before the council voted on warning Russia to open peace negotiations with the Chechen government or face suspension from the group. Only Turkey (in 1981) and Greece (in 1969) have been forced out of the 41-member council.

Amid new coup rumors, Indonesian President Abdurrahim Wahid signed retirement papers for four Army generals who serve in his Cabinet and called officers who oppose him "cowards." In making the move, Wahid said he believes he has 90 percent support within the military ranks for his democratic and economic reform agenda. Concerns over a possible coup have grown as Wahid prepared to leave today for a two-week tour of European, Middle East, and Asian nations.

A new terrorist-bomb explosion in Sri Lanka killed at least eight people and injured 73 others. The blast, at a post office in the northern Army-garrison town of Vavuniya, was blamed on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who have been fighting for a separate and independent homeland since 1983. The group has yet to claim responsibility for any such attack, but it also is suspected of three suicide-bomb explosions in the past month that have killed 50 people and wounded 200 others, among them President Chandrika Kumatatunga.

For the first time since it took office in 1997, a majority of Britons say they're dissatisfied with the performance of Prime Minister Blair's Labour government, a new poll for The Times (London) found. Fifty-one percent of respondents to the survey gave the government negative marks, a six-point drop from last month.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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