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News Briefs, part 1

World Religious Leaders Gather For Global `Parliament'

Newsday

CHICAGO

Thousands of religious leaders from around the world are in Chicago for the 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions, a weeklong conclave that will seek global cooperation among religious communities and institutions and address religious conflict, violence, AIDS and the environment.

Representatives of religions including Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Islam, Shintoism, and Zoroastrianism are participating, as well American Indians and other indigenous spiritual leaders.

The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, is among those scheduled to speak at the event. Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was scheduled to participate but a recent bout with malaria forced her to cancel plans to travel.

The gathering will be marked by ceremony, prayer, workshops, lectures and cultural performances. "Global 2000 Revisited; What Shall We Do?", a report challenging religions to address the difficulties facing future generations will be presented.

Panama Not Sure It Wants U.S. Out

Los Angeles Times

PANAMA CITY

The cry of protest in Latin America has traditionally been, "Yankees, go home!" In Panama these days, it's, "Yankees, please stay!"

As the date approaches for the withdrawal of 10,000 American troops and the closing of U.S. military bases as part of the 1977 Panama Canal Treaties, Panamanians are getting cold feet.

Nationalist fervor that once demanded an end to American dominance is being replaced by economic reality. Panama stands to lose, at least in the short term, thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars with the departure of the U.S. Southern Command under the accords.

What worries many Panamanians -- as well as citizens and officials in the United States and elsewhere -- is that Panama's plans for the canal and the properties that go with it remain unclear.

In a recent survey published by the newspaper La Prensa, more than 70 percent of Panamanians questioned supported having American troops remain. "People feel like, if the Americans go, the dollar goes," opposition legislator Balbina Herrera said. Panamanians want their independence, she said, but fear losing a major source of jobs, opportunity and income in these times of economic crisis.

Trouble With Mars Observer May Undermine NASA's Agenda

Newsday

The apparent loss of the once-promising Mars Observer spacecraft is turning up the heat on the U.S. space agency, bringing to a boil some long-simmering doubts about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's performance, experts say.

The Mars setback comes after problems with the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the misshapen mirror in the Hubble Space Telescope, and the loss of a new weather satellite, all of which have battered the agency's image. And the timing could hardly be worse: Senate debate on funding NASA's long-disputed space station is about to resume.

"I think that the very large reservoir of public support for the space program is becoming dangerously depleted," said Rep. Dick Zimmer, R-N.J., an outspoken opponent of the space station who supports other forms of space exploration.

John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, thinks the potential loss of Mars Observer may make it harder to get space station funding. NASA "was already facing substantial challenge to the space station, its major program for the next decade." Funding for a scaled-down space station was narrowly approved by the House in June.