News In Brief

The formal proposals for peace in the Middle East offered by ex-President Clinton were declared obsolete and nonbinding by the Cabinet of outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The move came in a letter to Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, as Barak and his own successor, Ariel Sharon, held their second meeting in 48 hours on forming a coalition government. But Barak reportedly turned down an offer to be defense minister.

A hastily arranged meeting between the chief of Colombia's largest rebel force and President Andres Pastrana produced agreement for the resumption of peace efforts. The two signed a pledge Friday to speed up an exchange of prisoners and to set up a panel that will propose ways to curb right-wing paramilitary violence. Pastrana and Revolutionary Armed Forces leader Manuel Marulanda also committed their negotiators to a first meeting Wednesday.

Twelve children were among 27 people reported massacred by suspected Muslim extremists in Algeria in the largest attack of its type so far this year and the second in three days. Thirteen others died in three separate attacks last Thursday. Reports said two people survived the weekend incident but the attackers had intentionally blinded one of them. Since Jan. 1, more than 280 people have died in the ongoing conflict between fundamentalist guerrillas and the government.

A defiant justice of the Supreme Court told Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government he wouldn't do its bidding by agreeing to retire early. Nicholas McNally, who is white, conveyed that message to Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa. A colleague who also was pressured asked for time to consult with his family on the matter. Last week, Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay said he'd retire a year early after Parliament censured the court for serving the interests of Zimbabwe's white minority. Mugabe, who long has feuded with the court, is expected to appoint an acting chief justice within weeks.

The largest of four organized rallies drew an estimated 100,000 people to Split, Croatia, to protest an investigation of an ex-Army general on suspicion of war crimes. Mirko Norac, widely regarded as a hero, is not formally charged with the massacre of ethnic-Serb civilians in the civil war of the early 1990s, but is in hiding. New President Stipe Mesic has aroused resentment with his government's efforts to shed light on anti-Serb atrocities.

A stunning political comeback appeared under way for Australia's One Nation Party that could have implications for the national election that must be held in less than a year. In Western Australia, the anti-immigrant movement of founder Pauline Hanson was winning about 10 percent of the vote - 20 percent in some precincts - in a state election that toppled the ruling Liberal-National Party coalition government. Two years ago, One Nation appeared spent as a political force due to its controversial views and infighting in the ranks.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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