A bill that would permit former Prime Minister Benjamin Netan-yahu to run again for the post easily passed its first test in Israel's parliament. By a 67-to-35 vote, legislators gave a preliminary OK to the measure, the first of several that are required before it can become law. Among the dissenters was Ehud Barak, who resigned the prime ministership Saturday but is seeking reelection although he trails Netanyahu by wide margins in most current opinion polls. Netanyahu also must top opposition Likud leader Ariel Sharon in a party primary set for next week. Under the type of early election called by Barak, Netanyahu would not be eligible to run because he's not a sitting member of the Knesset.
Hard-line Protestants opposed to the peace process in Northern Ireland appeared to anger President Clinton in Belfast. Reports said in a confrontation over their exclusion from his last scheduled trip to the province, Clinton reacted strongly to accusations that he was encouraging terrorism on the part of the Irish Republican Army and its political ally, Sinn Fein. The incident contrasted with warm welcomes Clinton received from other pro-British politicians and on his arrival in the neighboring Irish Republic.
One last restart of the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant was to be attempted for symbolic purposes. But the only operational reactor at the Ukraine facility was expected to produce no electricity before tomorrow's permanent shutdown. The plant was taken off line last week after discovery of a leak of radioactive steam.
Day 1 of the presidential election in Sudan produced so low a turnout that it appeared a boycott by opposition parties might turn out to be effective. Three of 26 states, under varying degrees of rebel control, also were not participating in the vote. Incumbent Omar al-Bashir, however, seemed certain to win a new five-year term over four rivals, one of them former military ruler Jafaar al-Nimeiri. Balloting is scheduled to end Dec. 22.
An unidentified buyer shattered the record for paintings by Dutch master Rembrandt, paying $28.7 million at auction in London to purchase "Portrait of a Lady Aged 62 Years" (above). The amount for the 1632 work was more than three times what was paid at auction two years ago for his "Portrait of a Bearded Man in a Red Coat." The record for a single painting remains $82.5 million paid in 1990 for Van Gogh's "Portrait of Dr. Grachot," reports said.
Ndabaningi Sithole, who died in a Philadelphia hospital, was among the best-known leaders of the African nationalist movement of the 1960s and 1970s and founder of the political party that has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980. After losing a power struggle to President Robert Mugabe, he fled to the US, claiming his life was in danger, but returned home nine years later and eventually was elected to Parliament. Sithole was convicted in 1997 of plotting to kill Mugabe, but never served his sentence due to ill-health.
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