Collapse appeared imminent for the government of Turkey after two more key leaders resigned their posts. Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and Economy Minister Kemal Dervis were reported to be planning the launch of a new political party. They bring to eight the number of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's Cabinet members who've quit in recent days, making an early national election a virtual certainty, analysts said.

Antigovernment protests across Iran were far larger and more violent than documented in news accounts, a conservative US opinion journal reported. Sources told the National Review of at least six deaths, scores of injuries, and thousands of arrests. The magazine said local police, in a "quite new" move, intervened on the side of the demonstrators. Meanwhile, despite a government order banning coverage of the resignation in protest Wednesday of a popular Muslim cleric, some newspapers reported that more than 100 legislators signed a letter supporting his action.

Almost 1.25 million children – 30 percent of them girls – have returned to Afghanistan's schools since the fall of the Taliban regime, a UN report said. Thirty-six percent of the teachers, it added, are women. The document, which resulted from a survey of all but 12 of the country's 32 provinces, found the boy-girl ratio "relatively similar" everywhere. Girls were denied formal education under Taliban rule. Earlier this week, new President Hamid Karzai announced he will spend the bulk of his government's first-year budget on education and health.

Stores closed early and residents of Northern Ireland's capital braced for trouble today, the peak of the traditional Protestant marching season. Belfast's mayor urged "everyone in this city to demonstrate calm and restraint" amid news that Catholic churches and businesses in other towns had been attacked by suspected Protestant arsonists or splattered by paint-filled balloons. Protestants have permission for two marches whose routes pass near Catholic neighborhoods in north and west Belfast; 17 others are scheduled elsewhere in the province.

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans were expected to turn out for a rally in the capital, Buenos Aires, to demand the resignation of President Hugo Chavez as the Monitor went to press. But Chavez planned to be 60 miles away, attending a ceremony at a military base. In an address to the nation Wednesday night, he pleaded for calm and said he anticipated no repeat of the "horror and anarchy" that ensued in April when a similar demonstration led to 57 deaths and a short-lived coup.

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