News In Brief

Efforts to forge a peace with Palestinians will not be affected by his latest political setbacks, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak vowed. Barak was dealt a double blow when Foreign Minister David Levy (resigned and parliament gave another of the necessary approvals to a bill calling for new national elections. Levy said he couldn't agree to Barak's offer of partial control over Jerusalem to the Palestinians.

A level of violence previously seen "only in the movies" killed 93 people in less than 24 hours in disputed Kashmir. Seven attacks by suspected Islamic guerrillas opposed to a cease-fire in the state claimed by both India and Pakistan targeted mostly Hindus and their porters on a pilgrimage to a religious shrine and villagers. Militant groups in the region denied responsibility. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said it could not rule out involvement by Indian forces.

Only civil servants appeared to be bucking the one-day general strike across Zimbabwe, which otherwise idled the private sector. Security forces kept a low profile, and there was no early word of violence or arrests. President Mugabe's government called the strike "a flop" and said it wouldn't have happened at all if employers had not locked out their workers. The walkout was staged to protest political violence and the seizure of white-owned farms.

By a two-vote margin, the Supreme Court of Chile has stripped ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet of immunity from prosecution for alleged human rights abuses, news organizations reported. But, citing inside sources at the court, they said the justices had decided not to announce their ruling publicly for the time being. If the reports are correct, a full medical report on the elderly and frail Pinochet would have to be ordered under Chilean law before he could stand trial. A similar report earlier this year when he was in Britain found him unfit for such an ordeal.

A $94 million fine was slapped on Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, for the spill last month of more than 1 million gallons of crude into a key river. It came on top of a $28 million fine against the company in January for a ruptured pipeline that spewed roughly 340,000 gallons of oil into Rio de Janeiro's famous Guanabara Bay. Meanwhile, in British Columbia, a pipeline leaked almost 500,000 gallons of crude into the environmentally sensitive Pine River.

Rival militias committed themselves to a cease-fire in the Solomon Islands aimed at ending 19 months of ethnic violence. Fighting between Malaitan immigrants and Isatubu tribesmen angry over the loss of land and prestigious jobs has killed at least 60 people and forced thousands of others from their homes. Negotiations over a formal peace treaty are expected to open next week.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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