ASIA

Taiwan Imposes Emergency Measures

TAIPEI, Taiwan--Taiwan's president yesterday signed a rarely used emergency decree yesterday giving the military increased powers to maintain order and allowing severe sentences for black marketeers who try to take advantage of Tuesday's earthquake.

The decree, imposed only three times in the past four decades, would supersede all existing laws for six months. It was passed by President Lee Teng-hui and his cabinet, but must still be approved by the legislature, which Lee controls.

A powerful magnitude 6.8 aftershock rumbled across Taiwan Sunday, badly damaging at least one already destabilized building in the devastated epicentre zone in the island's centre, authorities said.

Meanwhile, rescue workers on Sunday pulled a 20-year-old man and his brother alive from the rubble of a building in Taipei, five days after the magnitude 7.8 quake that has claimed over 2,000 lives.

Japanese Opposition Elects Leader

TOKYO--Japan's biggest opposition party elected the scion of an old political family as its new leader, replacing a charismatic reformer.

Yukio Hatoyama, 52, was chosen to replace Naoto Kan as chief of the Democratic Party just days after the ruling Liberal Democratic Party reelected Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi as its leader. The Democrats have seen their appeal wane as they struggle to distinguish their policies from those of the resurgent ruling party.

THE AMERICAS

Talks With Colombian Rebels to Resume

BOGOTA, Colombia--Overcoming a deadlock that has paralyzed negotiations since July, the government and Colombia's most powerful rebel band have agreed to resume peace talks, a rebel spokesman said.

"We agreed that the most important thing for the Colombian people is to start the dialogues," Raul Reyes, of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, told a television network.

Negotiations aimed at ending nearly 40 years of civil conflict were launched in January but stalled over the rebels' refusal to allow international monitors into a huge region cleared of troops and police as a forum for the peace talks.

President Andres Pastrana said in July that substantive negotiations could not continue without an international verification commission to oversee conditions in the region in southern Colombia.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Newspaper Closed in Iran

TEHRAN--A hard-line court banned Iran's leading pro-reform newspaper and sentenced its publisher to jail, marking a new setback for supporters of liberal reform. State television reported that the court, presided over by a conservative judge, had banned the outspoken liberal daily Neshat and sentenced publisher Latif Safari to 2 1/2 years in jail.

The court had suspended the paper earlier this month for articles opposing capital punishment and calling on supreme clerical leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to stay out of factional politics.

Rights Activist Freed in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey--Turkey's top human rights campaigner was freed from jail after medical reports said a two-year term could be fatal to the activist, who was injured in a gun attack last year.

Akin Birdal was convicted of "inciting racial or religious hatred" in two speeches he made last year calling for a negotiated end to the country's 15-year conflict with Kurdish rebels. The European Union had urged the suspension of Birdal's sentence on humanitarian grounds because of severe chest and leg injuries from the attack.

The prime minister's office said Birdal's sentence was postponed for six months, the official Anatolian News Agency reported.

EUROPE

Anti-Milosevic Protests Grow

BELGRADE--Tens of thousands of people marched through Belgrade demanding the resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, blaming him for their plunging living standards and international isolation.

On the fifth day of street protests to topple Milosevic after a decade in power, several thousand demonstrators turned up at Republic Square. The demonstration swelled in size when the march started, as it had the previous night when between 20,000 and 30,000 people took part. Protesters chanted anti-government slogans, whistled and jeered as they passed government buildings.

Russia Continues Airstrikes on Grozny

GROZNY, Russia--Russia's air force increased the pressure on breakaway Chechnya, bombing local television and radio off the air and sending tens of thousands of civilians fleeing toward neighboring regions.

It was the third day of punishing airstrikes on the capital, Grozny. Russia's air campaign had been focused on bombing suspected rebel bases, but now it is targeting economic installations and civilian communications facilities as well.

Chechen officials said seven people were killed and 24 wounded in an overnight air raid on the television station in Grozny, the Interfax news agency reported.

Kazakhstan Destroys Nuclear Test Site

ALMATY, Kazakhstan--A blast equivalent to 100 tons of dynamite collapsed a tunnel at a former nuclear testing ground as part of a program to dismantle the former Soviet Union's missile-launching system. The controlled explosion in a tunnel under the Degelen Mountains in Kazakhstan was part of a U.S.-Kazakh agreement to dismantle silo-based missile launchers in the former Soviet republic. The blast was caused by the second of three bombs designed to eliminate the infrastructure at a former nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk, once one of the world's largest nuclear testing grounds.

Two Caught with Radioactive Material

TBILISI, Georgia--Investigators in two former Soviet republics are looking into two incidents in which people were caught with radioactive material.

In Georgia, border officials detained four people for allegedly trying to smuggle a cache of uranium into Turkey, a security official said. In Ukraine, a resident of the southern Russian region of Dagestan was apprehended in Uzhhorod with two containers of radioactive strontium. The man from Dagestan--the site of recent fighting between Islamic rebels and Russian government forces--was apprehended by police early in the week.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It's like they had a special permit for genocide." -- Father Francisco, an East Timorese priest, speaking of the Indonesian military.