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News briefs, part 1

Riots Sweep Across India

The Washington Post


Communal riots swept across India Monday, killing more than 200 people and injuring hundreds more, in response to the destruction of a mosque by rampaging Hindus in the north Indian town of Ayodhya on Sunday.

The escalating violence, which has rocked Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao's government, also spilled over into India's neighboring states as angry Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh attacked Hindu temples and Indian embassies in retaliation for what they perceive as a vicious attack on Islam.

Stonings, stabbings, police shootings, bombings and arsons were reported Monday throughout India as mobs attacked police stations, temples, mosques, shops and buses. Sunday night, the Indian army was called out to help restore order in Bombay, where fierce street battles left 41 dead and closed the stock market, and in Calcutta, where at least four people were killed and more than 100 arrested. Countrywide more than a thousand people were arrested.

Most of the deaths occurred when police fired on frenzied crowds in an effort to quell the disturbances, which threaten to spiral out of control. It appeared that many of the incidents were concentrated in urban Muslim neighborhoods.

The razing of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya and the violence it precipitated have left India's major political parties in disarray. Parliament was forced to adjourn Monday when bedlam broke out in the chamber with competing shouts for Rao's resignation and calls for banning the main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the prime organizer of the march on the mosque.

What began as a peaceful religious demonstration degenerated into a riot Sunday when BJP leaders lost control of their followers who stormed the mosque with hammers, picks and shovels for five hours, reducing the stone building to rubble as security forces watched.

Amid calls for his arrest, BJP leader L.K. Advani resigned as opposition leader in Parliament's most influential house, saying in a statement that he felt moral responsibility for the incident. On Sunday, the central government dismissed the BJP-run government of Uttar Pradesh state, where Ayodhya is located, for failing to save the mosque.

The government Monday banned fanatic religious groups, and Rao promised that his government would rebuild the mosque and prosecute BJP party leaders responsible for the destruction.

Clinton Outlines Economic Priorities

The Washington Post


President-elect Clinton, fresh from a month of skull sessions devoted largely to economic questions, warned Monday that short-term improvements in the business cycle should not mask "long-term trends" that have undermined the nation's economy.

And he outlined an agenda -- topped by health care reform, along with job training, deficit reduction and reduced dependence on foreign oil -- to deal with "problems ... that have been coming onto us for 20 years."

Clinton glossed over signs that the nation's economy is emerging from the stubborn sluggishness that helped him to victory last month. "We may or may not be coming out of our recession. There are some good indicators that we are," he said. He spoke only passingly of his intention to offer a "short-term ... economic program" after his inauguration Jan. 20.

Instead, in a brief economics lecture at a working-class college in Chicago, Clinton focused on trends like the decline of manufacturing and the rising cost of government debt. Again and again, he cited soaring health care costs as perhaps the gravest trouble.

"If I could wave a magic wand tomorrow and do one thing for this economy, I would bring health costs in line with inflation and provide a basic (insurance) package to everybody," he said. "Because eight years from now that would create more money for people to invest in their children's education and business to invest in the plants and the production and the jobs of the future."

It was Clinton's first extended public discussion of economic priorities since Election Day. His remarks showed none of the urgency about immediate spending programs to create jobs -- a possible deficit monster -- that flared periodically in his campaign rhetoric. A vigorous growth rate, announced last month, and the falling unemployment rate, seem to have given him a gift of calm.

Raising his gaze to the longer view, he detailed his belief that energy and education policies are crucial to economic growth. "We spend too much money on other people's energy," he said, when the nation should be increasing energy efficiency and using more natural gas.


Sunny, Dry, and Cold

By Michael Morgan
Staff Meteorologist

It seems as if we never get the right ingredients for a snow event in Boston. Actually we do, but they never occur simultaneously. Consider last week's events: lots of moisture, but no cold air. Well the cold air has arrived and it looks as if it will be around for the next several days. Clouds and precipitation will likely arrive late Thursday before the cold starts to exit.

Today: Mostly sunny and continued cold. High 27-31F (-3 to -1C).

Tonight: Clear and cold. Low 17F (-8C).

Wednesday: Mostly sunny and cold. High 29-33F (-2 to 1C). Low 17F (-8C).

Thursday: Increasing clouds with snow developing late. High 35F (2C). Low 27F (-3C).