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Today's Story Line

Russia's lower house of parliament is expected to ratify Start II today, but will it be a triumphant end to superpower rivalry or an opening salvo in a fresh confrontation?.

China is pushing its model (one country; two systems) of a unified Korea . Quote of note: "The [Chinese] Communist Party still says communism is an unstoppable world trend," - Chinese scholar.

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Serbia and Montenegro, which make up Yugoslavia, have been locked in a two-year standoff

Peru is headed for a runoff election .

Faye Bowers Deputy World editor

Reporters on the job..

* NORTH-SOUTH DIVIDE: The Monitor's Kevin Platt experienced firsthand the cultural differences between North and South Korea. "During a press conference called by South Korea's ambassador to Beijing this week, the envoy thanked Western reporters for attending, and his assistants handed out their business cards," Kevin says. "In sharp contrast, the North Korean ambassador to China rarely holds press meetings, and when he does, it is only with a short list of foreign reporters that are deemed the 'least hostile.' " The North's Embassy has such a fortresslike image, Kevin adds, that even Beijing residents walking in the area cross the street to avoid brushing too close.

* MARKED MAN: Fred Weir once accidentally drove into the area where Russia has its one antiballistic missile site. About six years ago, Fred and his wife were driving to a friend's dacha west of Moscow. "My wife, who's Russian, was driving, but our car has special license plates that identify it as a foreign journalist's vehicle," Fred says. "The military police stopped us, thoroughly reprimanded my wife for bringing a foreigner into this zone - it wasn't marked, as far as I could see - and forced us to detour 31 miles around."

Follow-up on monitor story..

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* ATOMIC TEST AWARD: The residents of Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands finally have something to celebrate. As reported by the Monitor on Jan. 4, residents of Enewetak and three other contaminated atolls are seeking hundreds of millions in damages stemming from the US atomic testing program there in the 1940s and 1950s. On April 12, a special Marshallese court awarded Enewetak $325 million, according to their attorney, Davor Pevec. The problem: The US-provided fund for settling atomic claims is nearly exhausted. The Marshall Islands is expected to ask the US Congress to pay up. Additional awards for Bikini and other atolls are expected in the coming weeks.

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