THE AMERICAS

Quebec Court Rejects French Sign Law

QUEBEC CITY--Quebec has no right to tell its shopkeepers that French must be the dominant language on their signs, a court ruled yesterday, sparking an angry reaction from the province's separatist government. The Parti Quebecois government said it would appeal the ruling, which could spur the passions of the French-speaking majority in the Canadian province. French speakers have long supported tough language laws as a way of protecting their heritage from North America's English-speaking majority.

Cuban Dissidents Detained

HAVANA--About 30 Cuban dissidents have been detained or confined to their homes for short periods in the past two weeks as part of the government's response to a rise in meetings and other low-level actions by Cuba's splintered opposition. Most recently, at least a half-dozen dissidents were ordered not to leave their homes or were taken to detention centers after an opposition meeting was scheduled in Havana for yesterday morning.

EUROPE

Italians Want Info on U.S. Nuclear Arms

ROME--Leftist politicians demanded that the government tell all it knows about the reported presence of U.S. nuclear weapons at air bases in Italy. The politicians were responding to a U.S. report that 150 U.S. nuclear bombs were still stored in seven NATO countries outside the United States. Italian media quoted one of the authors of the report--based on heavily edited Pentagon documents--as saying some 30 nuclear bombs were in Italy. Most Italians believed U.S. nuclear warheads were removed after the Cold War.

Spain Eases Stand on Pinochet Release

MADRID--Spain will not lodge an appeal if British Home Secretary Jack Straw frees former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet on humanitarian grounds, Foreign Minister Abel Matutes said. A London magistrate ruled Oct. 8 in favor of Pinochet's extradition to Spain on charges of human rights abuses. Pinochet's lawyers have several appeals that could keep the case in the courts for months, but Straw has the final say.

Bomb Kills Russian Lawmaker

MOSCOW--A deputy on St. Petersburg's city council who survived one assassination attempt was killed when a bomb ripped through his car, a news agency said. An unidentified man approached Viktor Novoselov's car while it was stopped at a traffic light, placed what appeared to be a bomb on the roof, and ran off just before the explosion, the Interfax news agency said. Novoselov had used a wheelchair since he lost his legs in an assassination attempt several years ago, Interfax said.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Israeli Police Search Netanyahu's Home

JERUSALEM--Police seized dozens of valuables from the home of former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an attempt to recover items he allegedly took with him when he left office this spring.

Police said in a statement they seized pictures and utensils made of gold and silver. The statement did not say whether the items were official gifts he received while in office. According to Israeli law, gifts received by a prime minister are property of the state.

Police said the searches were connected to an investigation into allegations that Netanyahu accepted illegal favors from a contractor while in office. In that case, Netanyahu and his wife, Sarah, were questioned for more than seven hours last month.

AFRICA

Angola Captures Two Rebel Strongholds

LUANDA, Angola--The government said it has captured two key strongholds of the UNITA rebels, its first victories since Angola's civil war resumed in December.

The government reported the fall of two highland cities--Andulo and Bailundo--in a statement broadcast on state radio. It gave no details on the military operations. The government has observed a blackout on news of fighting since the war--which began after the country won independence from Portugal in 1975--reignited after four years of shaky peace under a U.N.-backed accord.

S. Africa Names Black to Lead Police

CAPE TOWN, South Africa--In a bid to defuse tension within the racially divided police force, the Cabinet appointed a top black civil servant to become national police commissioner next year.

Jackie Selebi, South Africa's former permanent representative to the United Nations and the present director-general of the foreign affairs department, will succeed Commissioner George Fivaz, whose contract ends in January.

Safety and Security Minister Steve Tshwete said Selebi's appointment would help motivate black police officers, who felt that the force was still being controlled by whites and that they were being overlooked for promotion.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"For the unity of the nation, I ask all Indonesians to accept this outcome."

-- Indonesian opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, after the People's Consultative Assembly chose Abdurrahman Wahid as the country's next president --Page A1

CAPTION: A Russian soldier unloads boxes of humanitarian aid for residents of Kalinovskaya, a village 16 miles northwest of Grozny, the capital of secessionist Chechnya, which is being pounded by Russian artillery.