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Water cannon, not used in Northern Ireland in 32 years, dispersed Protestant rioters as the annual marching season neared next week's climax. Nine policemen were hurt in the bid by the rioters to win a reversal of the ban on parading through a Catholic neighborhood in Portadown. Meanwhile, the Democratic Unionist Party announced a new rotational strategy to thwart the province's Catholic-Protestant government. It said its two ministers in the 12-person administration would resign July 27, to be followed immediately by the nomination of two more to build fresh Protestant opposition to the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

Crude oil prices already have dropped by about $2.50 a barrel since the announcement by Saudi Arabia this week that it would - alone if necessary - increase exports significantly. As the Monitor went to press, futures prices on the London market had slid below the $30-a-barrel level to $28.65. Saudi Arabia's goal is to bring them to $25. A spokesman for OPEC said only the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Algeria - of the cartel's other 10 members - had the capacity to help the Saudis bring an extra 500,000 barrels a day to market.

Airports, train stations, and the main roads into Moscow were under intensified security precautions after last weekend's military reversals for Russia in Chechnya. Coordinated raids against Russian bases there killed at least 33 people and brought a sundown-to-sunup curfew, with soldiers ordered to shoot violators on sight. There were no reports of violations, but Muslim rebels claimed two more successful attacks, with 43 dead or wounded soldiers.

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A deal between mutinying soldiers and Ivory Coast's military junta appeared to be lowering tensions in the capital and other key cities. No details were announced following negotiations between the two sides, but reports said some mutineers had surrendered their weapons. The mutiny began when disgruntled troops demanded bonuses they said they were promised to help topple the civilian government last Christmas Eve. Army leader Robert Guei denied promising bonuses, imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew, and warned that the unrest was endangering the scheduled return to civilian rule.

Rebels holding 27 hostages inside the parliament building in Fiji were given 48 hours to leave as the Army moved to implement the "exclusion zone" it warned of late last week. But a senior commander said "this is just a step to resolve" the six-week-old political crisis with a "nonconfrontational approach." Food deliveries to the rebels and hostages would not be cut off, he said. Meanwhile, order returned to an outlying Army post seized briefly by soldiers sympathetic to the rebels.

More than $1 billion will be spent over the next three years to ease Brazil's festering rural unrest, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso said. His plan calls for the money to go largely toward resettling 260,000 landless families. In May, the activist Landless Movement invaded government buildings, demanding reforms in a country that's two-thirds owned by just 3 percent of the population. Movement leaders said the plan requires $3 billion in its first year alone and vowed new protests if none of its measures are in place by July 20.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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