The Week Ahead: Australia under pressure to chide Suharto on press gags

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The Independent Online
THE Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, starts a three-day visit to Jakarta today amid a mounting storm in Indonesia over President Suharto's attempts to gag opposition media.

The two men were to talk about the forthcoming summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Group, due to be held in Jakarta, but the latest clampdown is putting pressure on Australia to take a stronger line against General Suharto. Mr Keating arrives hard on the heels of demonstrations and protests about the banning of three main news publications - a ban criticised even by the Indonesian military.

The only Australian comment so far has been from the Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans, who described the ban as 'extremely disappointing'. Mr Keating opens Australia's largest trade exhibition so far in Indonesia on Wednesday - at which 200 Australian companies will be promoting their wares - and will be under pressure to add more words of disapproval.

The disgraced US football star O J Simpson is due to appear in court in Los Angeles on Thursday charged with the murder of his former wife, Nicole, and her friend Ronald Goldman. And another sports personality whose misdeeds once filled the headlines, Tonya Harding, attends her disciplinary hearing by the US Figure Skating Association in Colorado Springs on Wednesday.

Cuba abolishes state subsidies for workers' canteens on Friday, as part of a belt-tightening package designed to halt the catastrophic economic decline. The move against the canteens is partly political, striking at what the authorities call excessive 'paternalism'. The tendency to pamper people must end, officials say.

Universal time stops for a second on Thursday to offset the slight lead it has built up over solar time, because of a slowdown in the earth's rotation. The BBC time signal will add a pip and engineers in Big Ben will remove for a moment one of the old pennies weighing down its balance-wheel.

Thursday is the last day for applying for US citizenship under the immigration lottery system. The government is to choose 55,000 people from poor Asian and African countries under the scheme. Competition is intense: more than 6 million Bangladeshis have already applied.

Bangladesh's Muslim fundamentalist snake-charmers say they will release 10,000 snakes in the capital, Dhaka, unless the government agrees to their demand that the feminist author Tasleema Nasrin be arrested and hanged. They have accused her of blasphemy for her suggestions that parts of the Koran should be revised. Turkey's week-long greased wrestling festival opens tomorrow in the city of Edirne, the heartland of this ancient tradition.