News In Brief
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat dismissed as a "road accident" the deaths of at least eight Israelis after a bus plowed at high speed into a crowded stop near Tel Aviv. Most of those killed were soldiers. Twenty others were hurt in the incident, the worst inside Israel since two suicide bombings at a Jeru-salem market in 1997. The driver, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, was captured 22 miles away after his vehicle collided with a truck. Arafat did not condemn the attack but said "we are against the use of violence and, of course, killing people."
By a vote of 142 to 47, members of parliament in Serbia abolished a law that had allowed ex-President Slobodan Milosevic to harass those in the news media who criticized his hard-line ruling style. Legislators also began considering a measure that would reinstate 16 judges fired for expressing support for democratic reforms and that would remove others who were loyal to Milosevic. The moves took place as chief UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte was due back in the region in an ongoing effort to pry Milosevic loose for trial before her tribunal in The Hague.
Despite its vague wording, overwhelming approval is expected in Bahrain of a national referendum on restoring democracy. Thousands of people lined up to cast ballots on the first of two days of voting on the measure, which would bring back an elected parliament that was abolished 26 years ago, give females the right to vote and seek elective office, and declare the judicial system independent, among other features. Analysts said a one-sided victory could pressure rulers in other Gulf Arab states to yield some of their absolute power.
At least 237 people were reported dead and another 1,700 were hurt in the second powerful earthquake in El Salvador in a month. The latest temblor, with an intensity of 6.4, also was felt in Honduras and Guatemala. In addition to the human toll, authorities said it knocked out telephone service in most of the nation and "heavily damaged" drinking water supplies.
An unidentified youth turned himself in to police in the Netherlands, admitting he is the perpetrator of a new virus that has snarled millions of computers around the world. The virus, in the name of Russian pro tennis star Anna Kourni-kova, corrupts e-mail files. Reports said the hacker surrendered when he realized the extent of the damage it had caused. He was released after giving authorities a written statement.
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