Today's Story Line

On the Israeli political high wire, Prime Minister Ehud Barak has just performed the equivalent of a back flip: He resigned. The wire is still wiggling. And it's not clear who's most off balance, Barak or his chief rival for the prime ministership, Benjamin Netanyahu (page 1).

In the Philippines, President Estrada is also walking a fine political line. But he's drawing support from a powerful charismatic movement (this page).

David Clark Scott World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

BRING YOUR BOOTS to CHURCH: For today's story on Philippine politics and the El Shaddai Catholic movement, the Monitor's Ilene Prusher attended a church rally. But she had trouble getting close to the stage to hear the speakers. "The atmosphere around the outskirts of the rally felt a little like a carnival, because of all the booths and things on sale, and because a real amusement park was in the background," says Ilene. Trying to get closer to the main event, she found that the rain and a crush of people had turned the area into a swamp. "It was so muddy that I wished I had brought my galoshes. I never did make it anywhere near the stage because there were just too many people to wade through - and too much mud."

FOLLOW-UP ON A MONITOR STORY..

HUM ALONG: Russian lawmakers returned to a Soviet-era national anthem, "The Hymn of the Soviet Union," composed under Joseph Stalin. While endorsing the tune, lawmakers voted for new lyrics. As reported on Oct. 30, President Vladimir Putin sought to replace the anthem introduced by Boris Yeltsin in 1993. Putin heralded the new-old anthem as helping to mend societal rifts. Critics called it a return to totalitarianism. Legislators also endorsed the white-red-and-blue flag Russia has been using since 1991, brought back the Soviet-era red banner as the military's flag, and retained the czarist-era emblem of a double-headed eagle.

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