Slobodan Milosevic passed up an opportunity to begin his formal statement on the second day of his trial before the UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague. Instead, the ex-Yugoslav president attacked its "competence." But presiding judge Richard May rejected his views as "entirely irrelevant," rebuking Milosevic for not to exercising his right to appeal the court's jurisdiction months ago. The confrontation set the stage for what Milosevic's advisers said would be a presentation today of historical and political background bolstering his case.

Yasser Arafat pulled a gun on his own security chief and accused him of wanting "to take my place," in what reports said was an indication that the Palestinian leader is feeling the intense pressure on him to dismantle militant anti-Israel groups. Witnesses said there was a heated argument between the two over the scope of the crackdown Arafat has repeatedly pledged against the militants. Arafat remains confined by an Israeli encirclement to Ramallah in the West Bank until he takes decisive action. Meanwhile, Israeli troops were on Palestinian-controlled land in the Gaza Strip, where they will remain until the makers of Kassam-2 rockets, the militants' newest weapon, are found, a senior official said.

Heavy gunfire and explosions were heard at the US military base at Kandahar, Afghanistan, as the Monitor went to press. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but a spokesman for Canadian troops at the base told journalists "this is not an exercise."

Controversial President Hugo Chávez departed from a speech on Venezuela's troubled economy to offer an olive branch to dissident military officers he'd called traitors late last week. They stunned Venezuelans by predicting Chávez wouldn't last in office beyond mid-April if he didn't heed the demands of a growing opposition to his left-leaning actions. But Chávez said, "I ask everyone to help me sheath my sword." Amid falling oil revenues, he also announced the bolivar would be floated on currency markets, a move that often results in a steep devaluation. Above, Chávez, in civilian clothes, watches a military parade before giving the speech.

The prime suspect in the kidnaping of American journalist Daniel Pearl confessed to the crime, police in Pakistan said. But Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed had yet to tell interrogators Pearl's exact whereabouts. Police also cautioned that Saeed may have tried to mislead them by saying The Wall Street Journal reporter is still alive, but the government's Interior Ministry said, "Don't worry; we'll recover Pearl soon."

The final document setting terms for joint US-Filipino military operations against Muslim guerillas was signed over the objection of some legislators in Manila. Most of the activity to date has been the stockpiling of materiel to be used against the Abu Sayyaf movement, which US officials link to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network. Ten Abu Sayyaf guerrillas were reported killed Wednesday in an assault by government troops. (Story, page 7.)

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