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News Briefs, part 2

Forest Service Plan Sparks Debate

Los Angeles Times

TUOLUMNE CITY, Calif.

Across the ravaged landscape, oaks, maples and dogwoods have sprouted from charred roots, and ground squirrels scamper under young manzanita bushes. Six years after a cataclysmic fire roared through the Tuolumne River canyon, nature is slowly healing itself.

But under a proposal by the U.S. Forest Service, helicopters and ground crews armed with herbicides would soon begin killing off the resilient hardwood trees, brush and wildflowers that are making a comeback in the Stanislaus National Forest, west of Yosemite National Park.

In a bid to accelerate nature's pace, the Forest Service plans to spray herbicides in an area larger than Las Vegas and plant tree farms with rows of conifers that could someday be logged.

Forest Service officials say using poison is the fastest way to reduce the likelihood of future fires, restore commercially valuable timber and, ultimately, produce a diverse forest habitat. They insist that the chemicals will not pose a lingering hazard to the environment, drinking water or people who use the forest.

But the plan has aroused opposition from many quarters, including American Indian basket makers who gather their materials in the woods, and environmentalists, fishermen, campers, merchants and residents of the surrounding area.

21 Parties Tentatively Qualify For Russia's Dec. 12 Elections

The Washington Post

MOSCOW

Twenty-one political parties ranging from free-market democrats to orthodox Communists have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the Dec. 12 elections for a new Russian legislature, authorities said Sunday.

Some of the parties could be knocked out of the race, however, as electoral officials examine the submitted lists to make sure the signatures are valid.

Still, next month's election is set to be the first truly contested legislative race in Russia, despite the banning of several extremist and fascist groups after the Oct. 3-4 rebellion by hard-liners in Moscow against President Boris Yeltsin.

Some of those groups had threatened to use the 76th anniversary Sunday of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution to stage demonstrations in Moscow and elsewhere. But the country remained quiet, all but ignoring what had been the most revered of holidays until the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

In Moscow, police broke up a small demonstration of mostly elderly communists who had gathered in violation of a city ban on mass meetings this weekend. More than 1,000 people, waving Soviet flags and banners, skirted the ban by meeting in a forest just outside the city limits. Small pro-communist demonstrations also were reported in the ex-Soviet republics of Ukraine and Belarus.

The Central Electoral Commission said only one major political bloc, an economic reform group founded by politically active millionaire Konstantin Borovoi, failed to turn in enough signatures by midnight Saturday to compete in the elections.