News In Brief

Despite persistent reports that he'd threatened to walk out of peace negotiations with the Palestinians and return home, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was still at Camp David, Md., as the Monitor went to press. It had become clear to Barak, senior Israeli sources said, that the Palestinians were not "a true partner for peace." Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi accused Barak of taking "inflexible" positions and said "of course there would be a resurgence of anger and, perhaps, hostilities" if the negotiations collapsed.

The controversial missile development program in North Korea is "wholly peaceful" and would be abandoned if the Pyongyang government were given access to the space-research rockets of other countries, visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin said. On the first trip there by a Russian leader in the post-Soviet era, Putin said nations that regard North Korea as a military threat, as the US does, should instead support its interest in "the peaceful study of space."

A second embarrassing leaked memo in three days warned Prime Minister Tony Blair to expect a dramatic drop in his government's majority in Parliament in Britain's next election. The memo, from Blair's personal pollster, calls the Labour government "badly contaminated" by "spin, lack of conviction, and apparent lack of integrity." The leak appeared timed to undercut the announcement of $64 billion in new education, healthcare, law-enforcement, and transportation spending, which the prime minister hoped would boost his government's tarnished image.

Emergency crews were in a race to contain a crude oil spill of more than 1 million gallons, the worst in Brazil in 25 years. The leak from a refinery owned by the state oil company, Petrobras, was endangering drinking water, farming, and animal life along a 140-mile stretch of the Iguacu River. But prospects were considered remote that the oil would reach Iguacu Falls, which divide Brazil and Argentina and are a major tourist attraction.

A prominent political leader narrowly escaped death in southern Spain when a bomb rigged to his car fell to the ground before it could go off. Suspicion immediately fell on the Basque separatist group ETA for the attempted assassination in Malaga, where a city councilman was shot to death last Saturday - also apparently by ETA. In Vitoria, the Basque capital, meanwhile, a bomb heavily damaged a shopping center, although no one was hurt.

Coup leader George Speight was claiming credit for the indefinite postponement of the swearing-in of Fiji's new 20-member Cabinet. Speight, who warned Tuesday of new civil unrest because he was unhappy over the composition of the Cabinet, said the swearing-in wouldn't take place until he reviewed a list of prospective ministers. Just two of his followers were named to the government, although - as he demanded - it includes only ethnic Fijians.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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