News In Brief
Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon added the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party to Israel's national unity coalition, ensuring he'll have majority support in parliament by tomorrow's self-imposed deadline for putting it togther. Sharon still was wooing the National Religious Party, which has eight seats, to expand his base.
A six-mile "security radius" was imposed around farms in central and northern France identified as having livestock infected with foot-and-mouth disease. The government also ordered a 15-day ban on internal movement and exports of animals considered at risk because of the virus. In Britain, the number of sites showing traces of the disease grew to 70. But to ease the meat shortage in stores, a slaughter of livestock began in areas of Scotland that are free of the problem.
The senior leader of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan rejected the growing global outcry over his order to destroy all Buddhist statues, calling them only "1 percent" of the nation's historical heritage. He did not address stern disapproval of the act by Islamic nations such as Iran and Pakistan. But while the destruction is expected to be completed this week, a UN envoy said some of the statues still can be saved because of "new consultations" on the matter among theologians there.
For the fourth straight year, deficit spending must be used to try to help generate new jobs for China's millions of unemployed people, Premier Zhu Rongji told the opening of the National People's Congress in Beijing. Zhu said "we must develop labor-intensive industries" that have "comparative advantages" to meet a growth target of 7 percent annually by 2005 and keep China competitive when, as expected, it joins the World Trade Organization later this year.
For the second time in 3-1/2 months, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori survived a vote of no-confidence in parliament and dedicated himself "to work every day from now on." But pressure on Mori to quit grew nonetheless. Some legislators from his own Liberal Democratic Party said they'd call for his resignation even though they helped defeat the motion. (Story, page 1.)
The 3 to 1 vote against requiring the Swiss government to seek immediate entry into the European Union means only that voters prefer a go-slow approach, the Foreign Ministry said. The rejection in a national referendum Sunday also was played down by EU officials, who said they'd expected that outcome and that the Swiss would be welcome "whenever they might feel ready to join." Traditionally isolationist Swit-zerland enjoys robust economic growth, low inflation, and a jobless rate of just 2 percent.
Rescue crews reported finding the remains of only two of 80 people missing in northern Portugal after a deteriorating 115-year-old bridge collapsed into the deep and swift Douro River late Sunday. The government's infrastructure minister accepted responsibility for the accident and resigned.
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