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News Briefs 1

Bosnian Serbs Launch Counteroffensive in Northwest

The Washington Post
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnian Serb forces have launched a counteroffensive in northwestern Bosnia and apparently are retaking land conquered last month by a combined Croat-Muslim offensive, U.N. officials said Monday.

Some of the land lies near sites of alleged mass graves of Muslim men, reportedly executed by the Serbs in 1992 when war erupted in Bosnia. Those sites were discovered following the offensive by Croatian forces in tandem with troops of the Bosnian government last month. Now, U.N. officials said Monday, they could be recaptured by the Serbs.

The renewed bloodshed around the Bihac region underscores the difficulties faced by a U.S. peace delegation in the region. Richard C. Holbrooke, assistant secretary of state for European affairs, left Sarajevo without clinching an agreement by the Muslim-led Bosnian government on terms of a cease-fire.

Other problems with the peace process include a belligerent stance taken by the Croatian government over reintegration of the last sliver of Croatian land occupied by rebel Serbs, continued differences over the fate of Sarajevo and other disputed territories in Bosnia.

France Rebuffs Nuclear Criticism

The Washington Post

France rebuffed a fresh wave of global criticism Monday following the second and largest nuclear-weapons test in its current series and vowed to press ahead with modernizing a nuclear deterrent that President Jacques Chirac says could protect other European Union nations.

The blast detonated beneath a South Pacific atoll Monday in defiance of world protests was six times more powerful than the bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. It apparently was intended to verify the safety of a new warhead for France's next generation of missile-firing submarines. The French Defense Ministry said the explosive power was less than 110,000 tons of dynamite.

French Prime Minister Alain Juppe, displaying stoicism in the face of condemnations from around the world, insisted the planned program of six to eight tests before next May would be completed without interruption. "We are continuing our testing campaign in the conditions and within the limits set by the president of the republic," he said.

Live on the Internet: Pope Connects With Cyber-Faithful

The Washington Post

Promoters say there has been no greater marriage of religion and technology since the 15th century, when Johann Gutenberg used the first movable type to print a Bible.

When he celebrates Mass on Sunday in Baltimore, Pope John Paul II will become the first pontiff "cybercast" on the Internet - live, with real-time audio and video. Cybercasting, or multicasting, as it's also known, is an emerging broadcast technology that makes sound and video available to computer users anywhere if they have the right kind of software, hardware and Internet connection.

"It's important for us to be on the cusp. Communicating with a mass public has got to be a priority for the church," said Bill Blaul, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which gave the cybercast its enthusiastic blessing.

Last week, Abbott was preparing the Maryland Public Television home page ( to make it a kind of gateway, or how-to, for anyone who wants to catch the papal Mass cybercast.