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Hold on to your tectonic plates. Russia, China, and the US are shifting the power balance among themselves. The war in Kosovo has united NATO but split the US from China and Russia. Despite the anti-American rhetoric, however, Russia and China need US help in what counts these days: economic progress. That may prevent a global political earthquake.

Russia's latest internal power struggle will further set back reforms. By firing a popular prime minister and defying parliament, Boris Yeltsin may trigger a constitutional crisis.

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Historic divides within Judaism and Christianity are back in the limelight. An election campaign in Israel has further split secular and Orthodox Jews (this page). And the first visit of a Roman Catholic pope to an Eastern Orthodox nation holds some promise of reconciliation .

Student groups have helped bring down governments around the world, only to then evaporate. Yesterday, students in Indonesia rallied to show their commitment to further democracy, a year after they led the ouster of President Suharto.

Japan's emperor is trying to become closer to the people without eroding his aura as the symbol of the state .

- Clayton Jones World editor


*BLESSED FOR SUCCESS: Long-time East European reporter Colin Woodard couldn't be in Romania for the pope's historic visit. But he has had a close encounter with a key player: He was once blessed by Romanian Patriarch Teoctist. While covering a 1997 symposium about the Black Sea hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Colin and a press officer were going over documents while sitting on a flight of stairs. They suddenly noticed that Patriarch Teoctist was coming up the stairs, alone and in full regalia. They turned to one another to decide if they should follow protocol and stand up. They did, but the patriarch had noticed their indecision. He stopped, and with great flourish, blessed the wayward Americans for making the right choice.


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*TV AS FRIEND: A study of 500 people by the British Film Institute found television viewers feel guilty, "like adulterers," when they watch too much television, especially in the daytime. But they say television is also a friend that helps people through illness or personal crisis. Other findings: A person's life change can radically alter the amount of television watched; about a quarter of parents want more control over what their children watch; and men enjoy soap operas as much as women do. "Women and men felt daytime TV was aimed at an imaginary housewife whom they had never met," the study said.

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