Today's Story Line:

Ever since the Monitor's 1996 series on the child-sex trade, Tokyo-based writer Cameron Barr has tracked efforts to curb this worldwide industry. The focus recently turned to child pornography on the Web and Japan's dominant role - including the role of its telephone company . Quote of note: "There is a clear distinction between the words 'to promote something' and 'to be taken advantage of by somebody else.' " - a Japanese telephone company manager.

A key to Mideast diplomacy is knowing when a leader is being a politician or a statesman. During President Clinton's trip there, the Israeli leader was unable to concede any peace moves because, in part, he faces the threat of being removed soon. Did Mr. Clinton sympathize?

Many European leaders are currently on the political left, which will influence everything from trade disputes with America to the unity of Europe. In France and Britain, two right-wing parties are being forced to rethink their appeal to voters

Europeans seem more concerned than Americans about what goes into their food. We recently looked at the strong European attitudes toward genetically altered food and the cloning of farm animals. Now the European Union has banned the use of most antibiotics in animal feed.

- Clayton Jones

World Editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB

* ON EDGE: Just before President Clinton spoke to 1,000 Palestinian delegates on Dec. 15, one man shouted out at him. At least 100 reporters stood on their chairs, thinking it might be a heckler. But the man was simply welcoming Mr. Clinton as "an honored guest in Palestine."

* DON'T CRY FOR ME, CHILE: Reporter Howard LaFranchi found himself gulping tear gas in Santiago on Dec. 13, but it had nothing to do with unrest over the detention of former military leader Augusto Pinochet in London. Rather it was the police dispersing rowdy Chileans celebrating the outcome of a soccer match. LaFranchi recalls that the last time he cried tear-gas tears, it was also in Chile, when he walked into another post-match celebration in 1996.

CULTURE NOTEBOOK

* POOH BEAR IN PANDA LAND: The world's most successful entertainment machine, Disney, plans to do its magic in the biggest potential market, China. Officials of the Magic Kingdom say ties with Beijing are back on track, two years after China closed the gates to the Middle Kingdom because of Disney's Tibet film, "Kundun." Now, a quarter of humanity will be fed the Disney fantasy, from Mickey to Mulan. China may be in for a cultural revolution.

Let us hear from you.

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