News In Brief

Messages of congratulation flowed from most world leaders to US President-elect George W. Bush. Among those sending best wishes: Chinese President Jiang Zemin; British Prime Minister Tony Blair; Israeli caretaker government chief Ehud Barak; South Korean President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kim Dae Jung; French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin; and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent congratulations from Havana, where he is visiting Cuban Communist leader Fidel Castro. Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat planned to congratulate Bush later.

A week after being sentenced by a Russian court to 20 years in prison for espionage, US businessman Edmond Pope was pardoned by Putin and quickly left Moscow en route to see his ill father in Oregon. Pope, also reportedly ill, stopped temporarily at a US air base in Germany for a medical examination before continuing the trip. Putin ordered his release on "the principles of humanity" and on "the high level of relations" between the US and Russia.

Another hurdle to seeking the leadership of Israel was cleared by ex-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud movement decided he could compete in its primary on Tuesday. The party's current leader, Ariel Sharon, would be its candidate for prime minister if Netanyahu loses the primary or if parliament doesn't change election laws in time to allow nonlegislators to compete for the prime minister's post. Earlier this week, the Knesset OK'd the first reading of a bill that would allow Netanyahu to run; at least one more vote on the measure is expected next week. Would-be prime ministers must register by Dec. 25. The national election called by Barak is expected to be held Feb. 6.

Black people in Zimbabwe should unite to "strike fear in the heart of the white man - our real enemy," an emotional President Robert Mugabe told thousands of cheering members of his ruling ZANU-PF party at its convention. In a 90-minute speech, he also blamed the nation's deep economic crisis on an international white conspiracy that "discriminates in every way possible" against the black majority. And he vowed to continue ignoring Supreme Court rulings that declare seizures of white-owned farms by black militants illegal. The convention opened two days after a white farmer was shot to death in an ambush, becoming the seventh such casualty since the seizures began last spring.

Impeached President Joseph Estrada is considering testifying in his own behalf before the Philippines Senate because he is "hurt" by allegations that he accepted bribes, an aide said. The charge appeared to gain added importance when star witness Luis Singson, a provincial governor and ex-political ally, testified that Estrada had pleaded with him not to go public with details of his reputed links to illegal gambling syndicates. Although predicting he'll be acquitted,

Estrada earlier said he'd testify only on the advice of his lawyers.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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