News In Brief

Still more oil may need to be brought to market later this year if futures prices don't drop in the next "month or so," OPEC's secretary-general said. Despite the cartel's decision Wednesday to increase exports by 708,000 barrels a day - the second such move in three months - prices of crude rose 27 cents on the London market to $29.60. US light crude, meanwhile, also rose - by 13 cents a barrel to $31.50. The cartel said it is aiming at a $25 target for a "basket" of seven different crudes, but that price still was at $29.14 at the close of trading Wednesday.

Following the OPEC decision, nonmember Mexico said it too would hike exports - by 75,000 barrels a day. Norway, also a nonmember, was expected to announce a100,000-barrel increase, but an ongoing strike by oil workers already has idled some of its production and threatens to shut down the rest, possibly by midnight tonight.

Collapse of the shaky coalition government in Israel was averted in last-minute maneuvering. Cabinet ministers of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party rescinded their resignations and rejoined Prime Minister Ehud Barak's administration after a rival coalition partner decided it would quit. The Meretz Party, with which Shas has major differences, withdrew "for the sake of peace with the Arabs" and pledged to continue supporting Barak from outside the coalition. Barak thanked Meretz for the move, but the strength of his government is due to be tested Monday in a no-confidence vote in parliament.

Only rigging of Sunday's election by the government of Zimbabwe can prevent a victory by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, its leader predicted. But Morgan Tsvangirai said violence and intimidation by President Robert Mugabe's supporters already have damaged prospects for a fair vote and Mugabe's refusal to accredit hundreds of poll-watchers has made tampering more likely. Almost half of the more than 500 foreign monitors who sought authorization have been denied on grounds of antigovernment bias. Mugabe is not up for reelection, but his ZANU (PF) movement's huge majority in parliament is on the line.

Fear of deportation was keeping some illegal Chinese immigrants in Britain from coming forward to help identify the 58 victims of last weekend's people-smuggling tragedy, their London-based lawyer said. Wah-Piow Tan also said his sources told him that the victims of suffocation, believed to be from China's Fujian province, were to have been joined by eight others but that the latter group didn't come because the truck in which the victims were found was too full.

A dangerous showdown between parliament and Indonesia's new president was looming over the arrest Wednesday of the central bank chief on graft charges. Abdurrahman Wahid and bank governor Sjahril Sabirin have feuded for months. But Sabirin enjoys the backing of key parliament leaders, who find Wahid's erratic governing style exasperating. Complicating the issue is the 30 percent drop in the value of the rupiah since Wahid assumed power.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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