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American troops are stationed in Asia, Europe, Central America, and the Mideast, helping to keep the peace. That's the price of being a superpower with universal ideals and global interests. But why not in Africa? For now, African leaders prefer to use their own regional forces to quell conflicts. But that approach faltered this week when a band of youthful rebels entered Sierra Leone's capital, forcing a retreat by a regional force led by Nigeria.

Israeli voters, soon to choose a new government that will either slow or speed up peace with the Palestinians, have fixed their attention on a fresh political face, former army chief Amnon Lipkin-Shahak. But where does he stand?

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Iran's evolution from strict Islamic rule has taken a violent twist, while in Canada and Russia, the Inuit people are linking up with the help of technology.

- Clayton Jones World editor


FAMILY: The wife of West Africa contributor David Hecht is from a Sierra Leone family, providing him insight on the civil war. But, in a tense nation full of rumors, her family worries about having a foreign reporter as a relative.


WHAT'S IN A NAME: Throughout much of his career, former Israeli Army chief Amnon Lipkin-Shahak was known only as Amnon Shahak. Where did the Lipkin come from? Here's the story: When Israel was first established in 1948, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (formerly Green) insisted that everyone who joined his government adopt a Hebrew last name in a symbolic movement to shed names of the Diaspora and reclaim Jewish roots. The unofficial policy lasted in many Israeli institutions such as the army and the foreign ministry, where, up until two or three years ago, any official going overseas was required to use a Hebrew surname. The foreign ministry rescinded the policy when it was threatened with a lawsuit. As Israelis have grown less ideologically driven, high-ranking officials no longer see the need for a purely Hebrew name. At some point in recent years, Lipkin-Shahak decided to reclaim his original surname - which apparently came from a line of renowned European rabbis - and hyphenate it to his Hebrew name.

I DO, I DO: Iran recently arranged mass weddings for 6,000 couples and provided them with "basic necessities." Divorce is on the rise in the Islamic Republic, and weddings on the wane. Two suspected reasons: A tough economy makes it hard for young couples to get started and more women are financially independent.

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