News In Brief

"Material damage" from the powerful El Salvador earthquake officially was estimated at more than $1 billion - or half of the impoverished nation's annual budget. Meanwhile, the casualty count from the quake rose to at least 609 deaths and 2,412 people injured. Hundreds more still are missing. Above, a woman makes a cellphone call from a shelter for those left homeless.

Neither cancer nor an identifiable "Balkans syndrome" can be shown to have come from the use of depleted uranium ammunition in Yugoslavia or, earlier, in the Persian Gulf War, senior NATO medical officials said. Their report, following two weeks of mounting controversy, was based on an analysis of health data from all 19 member countries. But the officials said they'd recommend further studies to determine whether the health of peacekeeping troops in the Balkans was different from that of other soldiers.

Prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Philippines President Joseph Estrada plan to resign en masse today after, a spokesman said, after the Senate voted 11 to 10 to deny the introduction of bank records as evidence against him. The prosecution said it needed the records to prove he had enriched himself illegally to the tune of $63.5 million while in office. Senate leader Aquilino Pimentel resigned in protest after the vote. Ex-President Fidel Ramos warned of a "people power" revolt if Estrada is acquitted but said a military coup was unlikely.

The Army was ordered to seal all of Congo's borders and its main airport as the Monitor went to press. State television also said all use of firearms "without prior order" was forbidden. There was no immediate explanation for the order from President Laurent Kabila's military aide, although gunfire reportedly was heard near Kabila's residence in Kinshasa.

A new blow to the cause of political rights for women in Kuwait was dealt by the sheikh-dom's highest court. In its latest in a series of rulings on the matter, the court said "until it is amended" Kuwaiti law gives the right to register to vote only to males over 21 despite language in the 1962 Constitution granting equal rights to both sexes. Several similar cases are still pending before the court, although four others were dismissed last July.

An unmanned spacecraft returned safely to China in the second test of an orbiter in 14 months. The seven-day mission carried animals and scientific experiments and, experts said, moves China a step closer to becoming only the third country to put humans in space.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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