News In Brief

Little hope remained of an early truce in the Middle East after Israeli combat helicopters rocketed the Gaza City compound of Yasser Arafat and his main security headquarters in the West Bank in retaliation for the stabbing deaths of two soldiers by a Palestinian mob. Arafat's whereabouts were unknown as the Monitor went to press, although aides said he was unhurt. But 12 others were wounded in the toughest Israeli military move against the Palestinians in two weeks of violence that have led to at least 97 deaths. The uniformed Israeli reservists had been in Palestinian police custody in the West Bank city of Ramallah after apparently making a wrong turn in their vehicle. Thirteen policemen were reported hurt in trying to keep the mob at bay.

At least four US Marines died and 35 sailors were hurt aboard a Navy destroyer attempting docking operations at the Yemini port of Aden. Twelve other Americans were reported missing in a powerful explosion that left the USS Cole with a gaping hole in its hull. In conflicting accounts, US officials called the incident an apparent terrorist attack, since a small rubber craft rammed the Cole just prior to the explosion. But a Navy spokeswoman appeared to dispute that, saying instead that the blast occurred on a third boat helping with mooring lines.

The deepening political scandal in the Philippines took a new turn as President Joseph Estrada's top deputy resigned her Cabinet post. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said she'd remain as vice president but was quitting as secretary of social welfare because of "serious accusations" that Estrada had accepted $8.7 million in payoffs from illegal gambling syndicates. Estrada denied the allegation. On Wednesday, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Manila urged him to give up power, citing a loss of moral authority.

The military ruler of Ivory Coast picked up important support in his effort to win the nation's presidential election next weekend as 75 legislators from the former governing party joined his campaign. The Democratic Party members said they were backing Gen. Robert Guei to stay close to power. Two senior members of the party - notably ex-President Henri Konan Bedie, whom Guei ousted in a coup last Christmas Eve - were among 14 candidates disqualified from the election by the Supreme Court.

Novelist Gao Xingilan became the first Chinese-born writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The honor also marked the first time in six years a non-European has won the award. The Nobel committee cited Gao now a French citizen, for opening "new paths for the Chinese novel and drama," in awarding the $900,000 prize. A translator, film director, and writer, Gao left China in 1987 after the Beijing government banned his play "The Other Shore."

A "rigorous" three-year prison sentence was ordered for P.V. Narasimha Rao, the first Indian prime minister to be found guilty in a criminal case. Rao was convicted last month of bribing members of Parliament to support him in a 1993 no-confidence vote that saved his government. He resigned in disgrace three years later after his Congress Party lost heavily in a national election.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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