News In Brief

Another political party in Israel was to meet in an effort to decide whether it, too, should quit Prime Minister Barak's coalition government. Such a move by the liberal and secular Meretz Party, analysts said, could be aimed at persuading Cabinet ministers from the Shas Party, who quit Tuesday, to rescind their resignations and save Barak's shaky administration.

Two men believed to be father and son were seriously hurt in an explosion in a Catholic neighborhood of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was not immediately clear whether the blast was terrorist-related, but it came one day after a vow by the pro-British Ulster Freedom Fighters to end their six-year truce unless Catholics stopped intimidating Protestants in the province. Shortly before the incident, another bomb was detonated by police outside a bar in a Catholic area 40 miles west of the capital. Britain has threatened to suspend the North's Protestant-Catholic coalition government again if guerrilla groups break their truces.

Claiming to speak for thousands of coworkers, 905 employees of Mexico's state-owned oil company signed a published notice that they have not been pressured to vote for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in next month's election. It came after a formal request by the opposition National Action Party for an investigation into claims by other Pemex workers that managers used company time and equipment in offering them cash and a day off to support the PRI. PRI presidential candidate Francisco Labastida faces the toughest election challenge yet to the party's 71-year rule.

Once again, the controversial prime minister of Japan was trying to explain a candid remark that critics called his most irresponsible yet. Yoshiro Mori told journalists "it would be great" if the 40 percent of eligible voters still considered undecided before Sunday's critical national election "stay uninterested and in bed." High voter turnouts in the past have led to elections defeats for Mori's Liberal Democratic Party.

An amnesty for opponents who have been trying to bring down his 11-year-old Islamic rule was decreed by Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. But the move, which would involve freeing persons jailed for rebellion, sedition, and other offenses, appeared to exclude members of the Sudanese Liberation Army. The SLA has been fighting for autonomy in the country's Christian and animist south since 1983.

An almost $2 billion plan to bring rampant crime under control in Brazil will begin with an immediate ban on the sale of guns, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso said. His proposal came one week after TV coverage of a fatal bus hijacking in Rio de Janeiro rocked the nation. Prospects for passage of the 124-point measure in Congress are considered good.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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