Today's Story Line:

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

How do you explain the hurricane-size outpouring of compassion to Central America? Howard LaFranchi's story reveals that many people feel a family-like connection to those nations. Quote of note: "We had a 20th-century Pompeii right here in Nicaragua, and that caught the attention of the world." - US ambassador

Writer Kate Dunn uses the crisis in Zimbabwe to show how progress in Africa can come through small steps with big meaning. She recently wrote a story (Sept. 19) on how South Africa wonders if it will follow Zimbabwe's path.

America's style of diplomacy often matters as much as its substance. Writers Cameron Barr and Francine Kiefer use President Clinton's trip to Japan to show the potential for a superpower to be arrogant.

Recommended: 'The Catcher in the Rye': 10 memorable quotes

- Clayton Jones

World Editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB

* YOU CAN'T MISS IT: It's not easy getting around Nicaragua in the aftermath of Mitch, with roads out and bridges washed away. But it's no piece of cake finding one's way around the capital, Managua, either. Ever since the city's 1972 earthquake, which virtually destroyed the central city, a normal system of street addresses with names and numbers has been replaced by a system using landmarks. The visitor might be given an address a half block south of a big tree, for example, even though the tree was cut down years ago. Our Latin America bureau chief, Howard LaFranchi (story page 1) had an interview set for a building "a block south of the Intercontinental and 50 meters downhill." Unfortunately the bellman and guard at the hotel could not agree where that would be. After walking in circles for 15 minutes with the bellman and asking others in the neighborhood who all pointed in different directions, he finally found the building - right across the street from the hotel.

* SHOUT OF AFRICA: Despite the ongoing political tragedy in Zimbabwe, writer Kate Dunn has found its people to be sophisticated and well-educated. Shoeshine boys in the capital, Harare, can be seen reading dog-eared editions of "Things Fall Apart," by Nigerian Chinua Achebe. When she recently drove near the gate leading to Bridal Veil Falls outside Chimanimani, she stopped to look at a toy village made out of mud, decorated with flowers and bits of green and named USA, surely a tourist-grabber. Indeed it was. The schoolboys who made it knocked politely on her car window. They didn't want a handout, at least not of the usual kind. "When you get home, would you please send us some school supplies?" (Their sea-mail address: Tonderai Maronde, Chimanimani R.P.C., P. O. Box 65, Chimanimani, Zimbabwe.)

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