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For different reasons, support for two world leaders is weakening. In Germany, chancellor Gerhard Schrder's woes are seen as a threat to "Third Way" politics. He's trying to put the biggest economy in Europe on a spending diet, but it's not going well. In Russia, President Boris Yeltsin's future has been shaken by a series of terrorist bombings.

The European Commission faces its own crisis of support. Hope rests on a new leadership that promises, among other things, to ease the way for new members to the European Union's club.

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Why has a tiny half-island taken centerstage in the news? A primer on E. Timor.

- David Clark Scott, World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *A RIDE WITH A REBEL? Reporter Corinna Schuler went to the Vancy Ville Guest House, where the rebel soldiers were living in Freetown, Sierra Leone. They were eager to tell their side of the story. But when confronted with the accusations of atrocities, one man, who calls himself Brigadier 55, became agitated. Jabbing a finger into her knee, he said: "I want to oppose everything you have written in that notebook." He insisted that she travel with him to his own village to see the poverty and suffering that he had fought to change. She considered going, thinking, "at least the rebels won't shoot at us." He said: "Maybe you're scared of me?" "Maybe I am," she replied. Later, she learned a Sierra Leone journalist went with him. And on the journey, both men were kidnapped by another rebel faction.

*SCHRODER GROUPIES: At a political rally in Dresden for his report on Germany's political difficulties, Omar Sacirbey was trying to interview German voters. But he kept bumping into American and Canadian students studying German at the local Goethe institute. Their observations on German politics? "It's interesting to see that politicians everywhere use the same clichs," said one. And, it was observed, there are no balloons.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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