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By , World Editor of The Christian Science Monitor

Taiwan makes three. that's how many major temblors have struck worldwide in just over a month. Scientists say the quakes aren't part of a seismic chain reaction. But there are similarities.

Borrowing a page from antitobacco litigation in the United States, European countries are now stoking their own legal fire under tobaccomakers. Quote of note: "The defendants are the same, their lies are the same, the proceedings are alike." - a Finnish lawyer.

The pro-Jakarta militia are quiet now. But critical to the ultimate peace of both East and West Timor will be the disposition of these paramilitary squads. - David Clark Scott, World editor

Recommended: 'Les Misérables': 15 memorable quotes

REPORTERS ON THE JOB CCHASING AN INTERVIEW: After attempting to secure an interview with pro-Jakarta militia in West Timor through the more conventional means, the Monitor's Cameron Barr tried another approach . His taxi pulled up behind a police truck in Kupang loaded with militiamen in red-and-white bandannas, motorcycles, and air conditioners. It was apparently coming from East Timor. He stuck his hand out the window, waving to the driver to stop. To Cameron's amazement, the driver stopped. He managed to get in a few shouted questions before the leader, in a police uniform, became angry. "I don't think it was because I was a journalist. The militia are hostile to all foreigners here now," says Cameron. The leader ordered Cameron to leave. "We took his advice," he says. * SCRUM OVER ANTISMOKING LAW: The legal battle against tobaccomakers is just lighting up in Europe, reports Paris-based Peter Ford. But rules against cigarette ads are another story. A couple of years ago, Peter tried to watch a France vs. England rugby match in Moscow. He was one of 150 British and French rugby fans who had gathered at a French-owned hotel with a satellite dish that picked up French TV. Kickoff time came and went, but the broadcast did not begin. "Eventually one of us called Paris to find out what had happened," says Peter. The broadcast had been canceled because the London stadium carried cigarette advertising - showing the game would have broken French law - which bans all tobacco advertising. For once, English and French rugby fans were united - in disappointment.

QUAKE CONTACT SITE * GETTING IN TOUCH: If you have relatives or friends in Taiwan, one way to check on them is to leave a cybernote on the Taiwan Earthquake Message Board: http://www.viexpo.com/dmstest/earth.html

Let us hear from you. Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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