News In Brief

Tensions rose still higher in the Middle East, with Israel cutting off access to Palestinian communities and Palestinian activists vowing to keep Jewish settlers and soldiers out of West Bank towns beginning today. The moves followed another day of violence that killed two more Palestinians and injured at least 15 others. Israeli Army sources said they also were considering a ban of vehicles with Palestinian license plates from key West Bank roads.

The political ground shifted again under Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori as opponents succeeded in a censure vote against his key ally, the leader of Congress, who's accused of blocking investigations of former secret service chief Vladi-miro Montesinos. And a newly released and potentially damaging video appeared to show military leaders paying unseemly deference to Montesinos at a banquet following Fujimori's reelection in May. In his first public statement in two months, Montesinos - now a fugitive - told magazine interviewers he'd been made a scapegoat for the embattled Fujimori, who "wants me for the guillotine."

Tens of thousands of protesters ratcheted up the pressure on Philippines President Joseph Estrada to step down via marches in major cities across the nation as his impeachment trial appeared likely to be set for Dec. 1. Results of a new opinion poll also showed public support for Estrada slipped from 68 percent last month to 56 percent. The peso, however, rebounded to 49.8 against the US dollar, a 0.5 gain since his impeachment by the lower house of Congress Monday.

The third and final round of voting for members of parliament in Egypt erupted in violence, resulting in at least two deaths and more than a dozen injuries when polls failed to open on time or police fired on supporters of an independent candidate to keep them from casting ballots. Analysts said independent candidates were likely to be from the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which - although it has won fewer than 20 seats so far - has been the most tenacious opponent of President Hosni Mubarak's New Democratic Party. The brotherhood seeks to turn Egypt into an Islamic fundamentalist state.

Amid rising new alarm over so-called "mad cow" disease, the French government announced a series of measures to offer consumers "maximum security." Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said the use of livestock feed containing bone meal would be suspended until further notice. Among other steps, he said the sale of T-bone steaks was banned and more veterinary inspectors would be hired. Alarm has spread since eight tons of possibly infected beef were discovered on sale last month. But Jospin said no evidence pointed to a health risk from eating beef or drinking cows' milk.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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