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Today's Story Line:

December 21, 2000



Global economic forces are a common thread through today's stories. The European space agency is embracing the business goals of the Continent

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In Russia, competition means once-powerful labor unions are likely to lose company-subsidized vacations, healthcare, and education. And a new law would push the workday from eight to 12 hours (this page).

In Germany, the need for cheap labor has created a need for schools that accommodate Turkish-speakers (page 7).

David Clark Scott World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

SEEDS OF DISSENT? Russian workers are an "astonishingly" passive lot, says reporter Fred Weir. Today, he writes about a labor-union protest that was relatively small, yet unusual. "Where else in the world will you find workers going months without wages, and they don't complain?" he asks. "The level of passivity appears to be a legacy of the Soviet paternalism, Fred says. His own mother-in-law, a Russian academic, has shown up at the pay window and been told there are no rubles today. "She would shrug, like Russian workers have been collectively shrugging for much of the past decade," he says. "Family networks are strong here, and that's where most people turn for help."

SNEAKING INTO BETHLEHEM: When Nicole Gaouette arrived at the outskirts of Bethlehem, traffic was backed up in a long line at an Israeli Army checkpoint. After waiting for a while, Nicole noticed that one of the road barriers at the checkpoint had been moved aside, and the soldiers' backs were turned. She eased the car out of the queue and crept forward. "We were moving at about 10 feet per minute; we didn't want anyone to get anxious," she says. Two other cars with journalists spotted the maneuver and slid in behind her. The comically slow caravan slipped past the barrier and stopped. "We got out to show the soldiers our press credentials. They were a little grumpy with us, but let us go," says Nicole.

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