News In Brief

Tensions were nearing the boiling point in the West Bank as Israeli reinforcements backed by tanks blocked Palestinian towns in the aftermath of Tuesday's tit-for-tat bloodshed. Senior officials denied any intent to retake Palestinian land, but an aide to Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat described the situation as on "the edge of explosion." In Rome, at the meeting of Group of Eight foreign ministers, Secretary of State Powell said it still was "premature" to send an international observer force to the area to monitor the conflict.

Key US allies were protecting their own flanks at the climate-change conference in Bonn, Germany, leaving the Bush administration increasingly alone in its opposition to the Kyoto treaty on cutting so-called greenhouse gas emissions. Japan and Canada both deserted the US in indicating they are behind the goals of the 1997 protocol, which President Bush calls flawed and unverifiable.

While predicting that a compromise would be reached with his political enemies to avoid impeachment, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid nonetheless stood by his threat to declare a state of emergency by week's end and call a national election if it fails to materialize. He said such a move would take effect July 31. A compromise likely would strip Wahid of most of his powers but leave him as ceremonial head of state. But Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri reportedly ruled out a last-minute deal, although Wahid said she also must leave office if he's forced out by legislators.

Beginning next month, homosexuals may marry each other legally, share a common surname, and enjoy many of the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples, Germany's top court ruled. It rejected bids by two conservative state governments to block implementation of a new law backed by the ruling Social Democrats and their Green Party coalition partner. In Egypt, meanwhile, 52 men arrested at an alleged homosexual party cursed and screamed at the opening of their high-profile trial for contempt of Islam and immoral behavior.

The embattled chief of the deeply divided opposition Canadian Alliance announced he'll resign as soon as a date can be set for an election to succeed him - perhaps as soon as this weekend. Stockwell Day and the party have been in a popularity free-fall since finishing a distant second to the ruling Liberals in last November's national election, and 13 members of its leadership caucus have quit in protest against what they say is Day's erratic leadership.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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