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COLOMBIA EMERGENCY: Colombian President Ernesto Samper has imposed a 90-day state of emergency, saying it was necessary to stem a wave of violence that has killed nearly 20,000 people so far this year. Opposition leaders said the measure was intended to muzzle them during the country's explosive political scandal. "My constitutional duty to seek peace is as clear and as firm as that of maintaining order," Samper said in a speech broadcast on national radio Wednesday night. He said the state of emergency was approved by Cabinet. It will allow the president to promulgate laws without congressional approval, and the government can restrict publication of news it deems a threat to public order.

EDITOR CHARGED: The editor of a leading Israeli newspaper was charged Thursday with illegally ordering wiretaps on the paper's chief competitor. Maariv editor Ofer Nimrodi was indicted on charges of ordering taps on the publisher, editor in chief and other top officials at the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. He is the first newspaper official charged in a wiretapping scandal involving top editors at Israel's two mass-circulation dailies, which together control three-fourths of the Hebrew daily newspaper market. Officials at Yediot are also suspected of ordering wiretaps on Maariv.

Across the nation

REYNOLDS LASHES OUT: Illinois Rep. Mel Reynolds lashed out from the witness stand in his sex-abuse trial, condemning prosecutors for "Gestapo tactics" and labeling his accusers liars and extortionists. After two days of calmly denying charges he had sex with an underage campaign worker, Reynolds lost his cool Wednesday during questioning about another woman, Stephanie Adams, who says he had sex with her when she was 16.

SURGICAL SERENADE: A country bandleader thanked doctors who relieved his prostate problems with a serenade - during the operation in Medford, Ore. Ashley Donaldson, 60, was under local anesthetic. He remembers singing about 10 songs, including two religious ones, but he kept coming back to "Erma," which happens to be the name of his wife. She was waiting outside the operating room. "Erma is the name of my baby," Donaldson warbled. "Erma is the only girl for me." Donaldson said his anesthesiologist told him, "Keep on singing, Ashley." Dr. Henry Olson, Donaldson's surgeon, said he has been "sung to before by associates, but not the patient."

In other news . . .

JOSEPH PRIESTLY MCCARTHY, whose mellow voice helped make him king of Detroit's morning drive-time radio for three decades, died Wednesday in New York City of a rare blood disorder at age 62 . . . A BOMB believed to have been planted by Basque separatists exploded outside a police barracks in northeastern Spain before dawn Thursday, slightly injuring about 20 people . . . THE OUSTED prime minister of the West African twin-island state of Sao Tome and Principe said Thursday he was negotiating with the military coup leaders to establish a government of national unity . . . AZERBAIJAN PRESIDENT Geidar Aliev says he has foiled the third coup attempt in a year in his former Soviet republic. The latest attempt was organized by former President Ayaz Mutalibov and former high-ranking defense ministry officials, he said Wednesday.