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Will the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, agree to one step backward now to facilitate a giant step forward in the peace process later? That's what Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak is asking. Quote of note: "Arafat ... isn't going to allow oral promises to make him change written agreements." - director of the Center of Palestine Research.

The US, Japan, and South Korea are leading an international choir that's warning North Korea not to test-fire a new long-range missile. The consequences for all could be grave. But is the mercurial bad boy of Asia listening?

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The negative energy is palpable in the suburb of Toronto as neighbors wrestle with a confluence of Eastern and Western beliefs. Should feng shui enter into municipal planning decisions about where to locate buildings?

- David Clark Scott, World editor


*MURAL DIPLOMACY? The US, Japan, and South Korea have been warning North Korea not to go ahead with a missile launch, as the Monitor's Cameron Barr reports. Perhaps to underscore the message, Defense Secretary William Cohen appeared for a press conference in front of a giant United States seal in Tokyo yesterday. The wall-sized mural features a particularly fierce-looking American eagle. On other occasions, Cameron notes, large blue curtains have been drawn over the national bird.

*COLD WAR IN THE NEWSROOM: Reporter Melissa Akin says that at the Moscow Times the most burning issue of this summer is the newsroom A/C temperature setting. The arctic blast produced by the refrigerator-size air conditioner next to her desk "blows a constant stream of frigid air over my shoulder, drowns out telephone conversations, and distracts me when I write," Melissa says. Her main opponent in the air war is "my dear comrade Natalya, who became acquainted with the wonders of artificial cold as a resident of the US." But Melissa is forging an alliance with colleagues who grew up without air conditioning and prefer to take the heat rather than crank up the A/C.


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