News In Brief

In their most dramatic strike since the election of Ariel Sharon as new prime minister, Israeli forces rocketed a car carrying a senior Palestinian security officer in the Gaza Strip, killing him. An Army spokesman said Israel had "very solid proof" that Masoud Ayad belonged to Hizbullah, the guerrilla group operating in Lebanon, and had been setting up a Gaza branch. Palestinian militants vowed to avenge his death. Meanwhile, Sharon said he was "on the verge" of completing a unity government with the Labor Party of outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Construction will resume immediately on a controversial $5.5 billion nuclear power plant in Taiwan, the government and leaders of parliament agreed. The accord was aimed at ending a political standoff that has sent the main stock index plummeting. The uproar began in October when Premier Chang Chun-hsiung ordered a halt to the partly completed facility without consulting parliament as required by law. The plant was the pet project of the opposition-dominated legislature. Taiwan already has three commercial nuclear power plants but lacks facilities to process the tons of waste they generate.

Corruption charges against fallen President Joseph Estrada could be ready as soon as Monday, and his immediate arrest would follow, prosecutors in the Philippines said. The government is known to be planning to charge him with plunder, a crime punishable by death. Estrada also was warned by successor Gloria Macapagal Arroyo not to expect a pretrial pardon if his case comes to court. Meanwhile, speculation grew that he might be attempting a comeback through his wife, who filed her candidacy for a vacant seat in the Senate just as registration was closing.

With less than a month to go before the presidential election in Uganda, a runoff appears likely, results of a new opinion poll showed. The survey found the closest of five challengers, retired Gen. Kiiza Besigye, has pulled to within four percentage points of incumbent Yoweri Museveni. Both fell shy of the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win in the first round. Museveni, in power since 1986, is seeking a fourth five-year term.

An additional 1.2 million older cattle in European Union countries may be designated for slaughter if the bloc's executive commission OK's a new plan to deal with the "mad cow" crisis, reports said. The new cull would come on top of the slaughter of up to 2 million animals by June 30 in a measure passed earlier. As the commission met in Brussels, Belgian farmers snarled rush-hour traffic to demand more government aid to cover their losses. But in approving a $900 million budget Monday for combating the disease, EU finance ministers said no more money would be provided if that wasn't enough.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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