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News briefs, part 1

Gaza Strip Closed After Palestinian Kills Two Israelis

Los Angeles Times

JERUSALEM

A Palestinian youth, a butcher knife in each hand, fatally stabbed two Israelis and wounded nine others Monday in a rampage through crowded Tel Aviv streets before he was caught by passers-by and beaten .

Ziyad Salim Hussein Silmi, 19, an unemployed car painter from Gaza City, reportedly told police that he had been unable to find work for more than four months and in his frustration decided to kill Israelis.

One of Silmi's brothers was imprisoned for 15 months as a member of the militant Muslim movement Islamic Jihad, and the group issued a statement from Damascus also claiming him as a member and calling upon other Palestinians to spread their jihad, or holy war, and to kill Israelis.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, under mounting pressure to prevent such attacks, on Monday evening ordered the indefinite closure of the Gaza Strip, barring any of its 750,000 residents from leaving.

"The closure will be in effect starting (Tuesday) at 3 a.m.," a military spokesman said. "The decision on the closure was intended, among other things, to check the validity of work permits (of Palestinians for jobs in Israel) and their conforming with exit permits from the Gaza Strip, and also to prevent violent encounters between residents of the Strip and of Israel."

But Rabin warned that neither the Gaza Strip nor the West Bank could be closed indefinitely and that the 150,000 Palestinians who work in Israel were an important part of its economic fabric.

Supreme Court Takes On Sexual Harassment Case

The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON

The Supreme Court, taking on a sexual harassment case likely to have everyday impact in America's factories and offices, agreed Monday to spell out when it is against the law to use smutty language or tell dirty jokes on the job.

The answer will come in the case of a 41-year-old Nashville, Tenn., woman, who quit her job nearly six years ago after what she says was "constant" use of offensive sexual talk by the company president. He insists he was just joking when he said such things as, "Let's go to the Holiday Inn to negotiate your raise."

Teresa Harris, shouting with delight when she learned from a reporter that the Supreme Court had voted to hear her appeal, said she had "given up hope."

The lawyers for Forklift Systems, Inc., her former employer in Nashville, unsuccessfully urged the Supreme Court to turn down her appeal, denouncing her as "a four-time married, white female" who had voluntarily joined in after-hour "bull sessions" with fellow workers and had "swapped" dirty jokes and "utilized language, herself, that sank below the generally accepted norm."

Ms. Harris' appeal asks the court to define the rights of workers to use federal civil rights law against sexual harassment when they are the targets of off-color remarks or sexual innuendo from their bosses or from other workers.

In Ms. Harris' case, the lower courts ruled that she could not pursue her claim because she did not prove she personally suffered "serious psychological injury" by the company's president.

She asked the Supreme Court to rule that if on-the-job comments would be considered "offensive" by any reasonable person and would make a woman feel she was working in "hostile" conditions, she is protected by the law against sexual harassment -- whether or not she suffers any psychological harm.

Terrain Impedes Bosnians From Locating Airdropped U.S. Aid

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

The Pentagon said Monday that its first humanitarian airdrop into eastern Bosnia was a success but that the mountainous, tree-covered terrain apparently made many of the crates difficult to locate, and they had to be pinpointed by U.S. spy satellites.

Officials said that three unarmed C-130 cargo planes, flying from the U.S. Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany, dropped 21 tons of food and medical supplies over the eastern village of Cerska early Monday morning, but the Bosnians were unable to find them for several hours.

U.S. and Bosnian accounts differed widely on the accuracy of the drops, conducted at night from an altitude of 15,000 feet -- far above the 10,000-foot ceiling usually considered the maximum necessary to ensure reasonable accuracy in such operations.

Secretary of Defense Les Aspin issued a statement saying that pictures taken by U.S. spy satellites had pinpointed most of the crates "within the identified drop zone" and said that U.S. officials "believe that" the remaining bundles landed nearby.

But the Bosnians, hampered by snow, trees and sharp ridges in the Cerska area, insisted for several hours that the parachute-borne pallets had missed their mark. Eventually, U.S. officials provided the precise map coordinates to help local authorities find the supplies.

Weather

National Weather Service

Today: Partly sunny with increasing clouds with a chance of flurries late in the day. High 40-45F (4-7C). Mostly west wind around 10 mph (16 kph).

Tonight: Partly cloudy. Low around 30F (-1C).

Tomorrow: Partly cloudy. High near 45F (7C).

Thursday: Fair. High 40-45F (4-7C).