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The Philippine government is closely modeled after American democratic institutions. And there are other political parallels, such as a former movie actor as president. Today, Filipinos will get a chance to see how their presidential impeachment process works, vis-a-vis the US (page 1).

European leaders are also tearing a page from the US Constitution by trying to build a "more perfect union" (this page).

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David Clark Scott World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

'LOONIES' AND 'TOONIES': The Monitor's Ruth Walker says that she has become a convert to coinage while living and working in Canada. "Canadians have both a $1 coin (the 'loonie,' a reference to the national bird, not to the country's monetary policy) and a $2 coin as well - the 'toonie,' " Ruth says. As a result, she often ends up with as much as $30 in coins in her change purse, to say nothing of Toronto subway tokens. "When I'm in the States," Ruth says, "I'm struck by how much lighter my purse feels." But she says that the convenience of coins at vending machines and parking meters tends to outweigh the bother of a bulging purse. Besides, the extra weight can be useful for whopping fickle editors or simple weight-lifting exercises.

CLOSER AND FARTHER APART: The Monitor's Peter Ford says he can sympathize with the European leaders meeting in Nice this week who are having trouble binding their Continent into "an ever closer union" as the EU founding treaty puts it. Every now and again Peter comes across real "Europeans," multilingual and culturally comfortable across Europe: He sees them on the high-speed trains that carry tourists and business people between London, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. But, he says, whenever he goes more than 20 miles out of a capital city, in whichever country he is visiting, the concept of "Europe" evaporates.

CULTURAL SNAPSHOT..

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