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News briefs

U.N. Diplomats Meet to Draft Global Warming Treaty

Los Angeles Times


In an 11th-hour effort, diplomats from more than 100 countries opened the final round of negotiations here Thursday to draft an unprecedented treaty to reduce global warming.

Negotiators are under intense pressure to produce a draft treaty by the end of next week. If they do not succeed, they warn, it is unlikely that an accord will be ready for signing by world leaders when they convene in June in Rio de Janeiro for a major conference on the environment and development.

At the same time, chief U.S. negotiator Robert Reinstein said that the outcome of the talks would likely affect a decision by President Bush on whether to attend the Rio conference, known informally as the "Earth Summit." There are growing signs in Washington that Bush will attend the summit, but the White House has announced no decision.

But even as negotiators assembled for the make-or-break session, there was little indication that the United States -- the most conspicuous holdout in acceding to a firm cap on emissions of global warming gases by the year 2000 -- would agree.

The United States announced last week that it could reduce its annual output of carbon dioxide, which is the principal greenhouse gas, by 125 million to 200 million metric tons by the year 2000. But even with that cut, overall U.S. emissions in the year 2000 would be from 1 percent to 6 percent higher than they are today. The United States accounts for one-fourth of all human-made carbon dioxide emissions in the world.

Kuwaiti Journalists Charged With Violating State Security Laws

The Washington Post


The chief editor and a staff reporter of a Kuwaiti opposition newspaper have been charged with violating the emirate's state security laws for allegedly publishing secret military information.

In a move viewed by many Kuwaitis as an attempt to muzzle press criticism of the government, al Qabas editor Mohammed Jassem al Saqr and reporter Khodeir al Oneizi were charged Tuesday in connection with a recent story outlining a reshuffle of Kuwait's top military leaders, according to one of their attorneys, Imad al Seif. The two men were released on $3,500 bail each.

The security charge stems from a recent story in al Qabas on the military restructuring, listing the names of many senior army officers and their new posts. The military reorganization has been a sensitive issue for the Kuwaiti government because of widespread anger among Kuwaitis, including many mid-level military officers, about the flight of senior military officials when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. The Kuwaiti government lifted press censorship several months ago, but is still extremely sensitive to media criticism.

Israel Finally Allows Palestinian University to Reopen

The Baltimore Sun

BIR ZEIT, Israeli-Occupied Territories

Bir Zeit University reopened Wednesday for the first time since it was closed by Israeli military authorities on Jan. 8, 1988.

It was the last to reopen of six universities closed down during the Palestinian "intifada," or uprising. It was the last because authorities described it as a center for the plotters of revolt.

Gabi Baramki, acting university president since the deportation of Nasser, argued the closure was "collective punishment" illegal under international laws. "You cannot prepare people for peaceful coexistence if you continue to deny our future generations access to education and the means to make them useful citizens," he argued.

In the last two years, authorities began reopening the universities in Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, Gaza, Jerusalem and finally, Bir Zeit.


May Blues

By Marek Zebrowski
Staff Meteorologist

Unfortunately, it looks like the cool and damp weather patterns established last month will persist into May. This April's average temperature was over 2 degrees below normal. This was the second consecutive colder-than-normal month for the first time since May and June of 1990. Warm, spring-like weather isn't likely in the foreseable future either, as a trough is forecast to dominate the eastern U.S. later next week, spawning more cool and damp weather.

This weekend will be unsettled and the Friday afternoon sunshine short-lived. A cold front will drift offshore on Friday and our brief spell of decent weather will be immediately replaced by clouds advancing ahead of the warm front and a low from the Midwest during Saturday. Sunday offers some clearing with a cool northwesterly flow as well as instability showers, accompanied by March-like temperatures.

Friday afternoon: Partly cloudy, light norhwesterly winds will become onshore. Highs in the mid-60s inland (16-18 C), around 58 F (14C) near the coast.

Friday night: Increasing cloudiness with a chance of sprinkles towards dawn. Low about 44F ( 7C) with light southeasterly winds

Saturday: Showers gradually tapering off late in the day. Temperatures remaining in the high 50s (13-15C) with damp sea breezes.

Sunday outlook: Partly cloudy with a chance of afternoon sprinkles. Highs in the 50s (12-15C), lows in the 40s (5-8C) near the coast and in the 30s (2-4C) well inland.