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News briefs

Opposition Leader Kinnock Resigns

The Washington Post

LONDON

Opposition Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock, his hopes of becoming prime minister smashed in last week's general election defeat, announced his resignation Monday and an angry debate followed on how to choose a successor.

Kinnock, who transformed the party from a broken relic of leftist politics to a sleek, modern, European-style social democratic movement, said he wanted a rapid transition so the party could offer a continuous challenge to Prime Minister John Major's ruling Conservatives. He proposed party elections in June.

The pre-emptive favorite to succeed Kinnock is party finance spokesman John Smith, an articulate Scottish-born lawyer whose popularity ratings in the polls far outstripped Kinnock's throughout the election campaign. He is expected to announce his candidacy Tuesday.

Smith's bandwagon was quietly rolling even before the election result and has been gathering speed. He has widespread support among party members in the House of Commons and among the large labor unions that control 40 percent of the vote in the electoral college that will choose the new leader.

But a number of prominent party members contend the process is being hijacked by Smith's supporters and moving too quickly at a time when the party needs to take a long look at itself and its policies.

Flooding Forces Chicago Evacuations

Los Angeles Times

CHICAGO

Massive flooding in an ancient tunnel system beneath downtown Chicago forced the evacuation Monday of tens of thousands of workers and caused a power blackout in much of the central business district.

Subway lines were closed, hotels and office buildings emptied, and trading was halted at the Chicago Board of Trade and the Mercantile Exchange -- the world's largest futures markets -- because of the water, which surged through a hole in a retaining wall holding back the Chicago River.

As evening fell, more than 200 extra police officers patrolled the relatively deserted streets of downtown to deter looters. Mounted police were stationed every few blocks as well.

Workers tried to plug the automobile-sized hole with concrete after first slowing the flow with gravel, sand and used mattresses. It was uncertain late Monday if the efforts would succeed, but Fire Commissioner Raymond Orozco said the city had unspecified "backup plans" should they become necessary.

What caused the rupture remained unknown, although it was speculated the retaining wall was weakened by pilings that had been driven into the river bottom last fall.

The water flooded an intricate 45-mile network of tunnels built beneath the city at the turn of the century to house telephone lines and accommodate freight cars that serviced downtown businesses. Nowadays, fiber optic lines, television cables, and telephone and electrical lines run through the tunnels.

Prime Minister Urges Japanese Role in U.N. Peace Efforts

Los Angeles Times

TOKYO

Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa declared Monday that failure to enact bills to authorize the dispatch of Japan's armed forces overseas for peacekeeping missions would make Japan look like a "strange" nation to the rest of the world.

He also said the deceleration of Japan's economy was at an end and predicted that statistics for the January-March period, when announced in June, will show that an upward climb had begun.

Speaking in a nationally televised news conference, Miyazawa expressed his strongest support to date for bills that would enable Japanese troops to participate in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Cambodia -- an issue on which ruling party leaders had faulted him for aloofness.

"We are a country that has focused our foreign policy on the United Nations. Now the United Nations is carrying out the biggest peacekeeping mission in its history. The U.N. secretary-general's personal representative in Cambodia is Japanese, and so is the U.N. commissioner for refugees. In the midst of these circumstances, no matter how you look at it, it would be strange for us to do nothing at all," he declared.

WEATHER

Gray Skies

By Yeh-Kai Tung
Staff Meteorologist

A large region of cloudiness located over the Midwest is slowly going to be passing over us, and skies will generally be partly cloudy through the period. A generally northwest wind will keep temperatures below normal.

Tuesday: Mostly clear. High 48 F (9 C). Winds southwest 5-10 mph (8-16 kph).

Tuesday night: Increasing cloudiness. Low 33 F (1 C). Winds shifting to north-northwest 10-15 mph (16-24 kph).

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High 45 F (7 C). Low 36 F (2 C).

Thursday: Overcast. High 49 F (9 C).