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Russia's President Vladimir Putin, in another consolidation of his power, plans to extend direct rule over Chechnya.

Golf-course developments are sprouting in Egypt, raising many of the same issues facing the US Southwest.

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The Israelis are accelerating their withdrawal from southern Lebanon, which is creating a security vacuum for the Lebanese there that supported Israel.

Faye Bowers Deputy world editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

LANGUAGE POLICE: For all the bad rap that the Quebec "language police" get in English-speaking Canada, the Monitor's Ruth Walkers finds that in Quebec, her interlocutors generally enjoy opportunities to practice their English as much as she enjoys the chance to speak French. "When I booked my hotel room, requesting a chambre non-fumeuse, nonsmoking room, the reservations clerk briefed me on the nuances of 'non' in Montreal French," Ruth says. "As a (female) person, I may be 'non-fumeuse,' she said, but the room is simply 'non-fumeur.' "

When Ruth toured a day-care center in the Montreal suburbs, the manager impressed his staff with his fluent English. "I had no idea Patrick's English was so good," one woman remarked.

DESERT OASES: Sarah Gauch's family, along with another Lebanese family, own a 1,000-acre farm - less than a quarter mile from the Soleimania Golf Course near Cairo. Sarah says the farm is their oasis - a retreat "with olive trees for as far as the eye can see." Her family visits the Gudood Farm, where they also raise poultry, nearly every weekend. When they purchased the property, they thought the desert would remain farmland. But lots of developments are beginning to sprout. And like other locals, Sarah and her family are concerned about water. She says she doesn't think officials know how little water is available, and they're concerned the reservoir could dry up.

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