News In Brief
Unless white farmers make a "real transformation in a positive way," they will remain "enemies of our people," Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe told a TV interviewer. Shortly afterward, he ordered a white representative out of a meeting at his residence with black squatters, whose leader had been found in contempt of court for inciting illegal seizures of farms. Meanwhile, hundreds more whites sought to regain British citizenship amid signs that Mugabe may be about to declare a national emergency over the seizures.
Thirteen blindfolded and handcuffed Lebanese prisoners were released by Israel, which had held them as bargaining chips to try to obtain the return of Air Force navigator Ron Arad. The prisoners were captured between 1986 - the year Arad's plane was shot down over Lebanon - and 1994 in round-ups of guerrilla sympathizers. Israel's Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal by Arad's family to block the release.
By a 122-to-15 margin, the upper house of Russia's parliament ratified the START II nuclear arms-reduction treaty with the US and sent it to President-elect Vladimir Putin for his signature. It was ratified by parliament's more powerful lower house last Friday. Putin lobbied for approval of the 1993 pact but has warned that he'll abandon all arms-control treaties if the US goes ahead with plans for a missile defense system.
For the 58th time since World War II, Italy will need a new government, after Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema abandoned his office. He'd attempted to quit Monday following a stinging defeat in regional elections, but his resignation was rejected by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. If no left-of-center successor to D'Alema can be found, Ciampi must call an early national election.
Amid intense security precautions, 24 low-ranking soldiers went on trial in the restive Indonesian province of Aceh on charges that they massacred unarmed villagers. Fifty-seven people, whom the Army claimed were separatist rebels, died in the incident last July. No senior commanders are among the defendants, and the trial is widely seen as an effort to placate Aceh's 4.1 million people, who endured years of military repression to quell the separatism movement as well as exploitation of the province's rich oil and natural gas reserves by the central government
All 131 people aboard a domestic flight were reported dead after their plane crashed near Davao in the southern Philippines. The Air Philippines jet was making a second attempt to land after its first was blocked by another plane on the runway. Most of the passengers were headed home from Manila, the capital, for Easter. The accident was the worst in Philippines aviation history.
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