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Corruption allegations are shaking the leadership of two nations: Peru and the Philippines. The charges are a crucial test for the democratic institutions supposed to handle such things. And the threat of popular uprisings hangs in the air.

In the Philippines, President Joseph Estrada is alleged to have pocketed $11.5 billion in bribes from casino operators. Impeachment proceedings are under way. But the peso is tumbling, and business interests are concerned that Estrada's political woes are going to sink the national economy (this page).

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In Peru, the return of spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos - who fled to Panama last month after a video of him bribing a member of Congress was aired - is sparking fresh instability (page 7). The biggest question now: Who's really in charge of the country?

David Clark Scott World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

JOURNALIST AND CHILD: The Monitor's Nicole Gaouette says Israel is usually a very baby-friendly culture. She didn't think it would be a problem when she arrived at a packed public seminar with her baby, Olivia, and stood in a back corner taking notes. Olivia was happy, and began to express her joy. Not too loudly, but enough so that nearby audience members were not amused. After several "shhhhs!" and "get that baby out of here!," Nicole and Olivia retreated to the hallway to listen. The subject of the seminar? How the Israeli public can win over the foreign press.

CURRYING FLAVOR IN THE UK: On Oct. 17 we reported on rising tensions over the changing British palate. New research indicates that the mere thought of a spicy Indian dish literally sets British hearts racing, according to a Nottingham Trent University researcher. After testing the reactions of more than 100 people to various foods, Stephen Gray found the mere thought of a chicken tikka masala could set blood pressure soaring. "Traditional British foods fail to do this," he said.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society