Today's Story Line:

Attention, shoppers! discounts on goods made in Asia can't be beat. Cheap imports from Brazil are flooding America and their prices are real inflation-busters. Gasoline prices are at a record low. From bananas to steel, bargains can be had!

Well, at least that's the upside for most Americans. Unseen on all those low-low price tags is a global battle over trade fairness as other nations cope with slow economies. Is Japan "dumping" steel and putting American steelworkers on the street? Why is China blocking American exports? How come Mexicans buy gasoline in Texas? And will Europe buy bananas exported by United States companies?

To maintain its anti-Iraq stance, the US needs Arab support. At a Cairo meeting of Arab ministers, that support was given reluctantly. Quote of note: "The problem [for Americans] is that you know what you are against, but there is no vision about what to do." - Saad Eddin Ibrahim, American University professor in Cairo.

Mideast peace watchers are eyeing a new Israeli candidate, Yitzhak Mordechai, who could become prime minister in the May 17 elections.

- Clayton Jones World editor

REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK OLYMPIAN MANNERS: Eisetsu Shiratori, a nationally recognized Japanese artist in Nagano, donated a painting depicting a geisha in training that was given to the head of the International Olympic Committee in 1990. A group of Nagano citizens just thought it would be a nice gesture, and the gift wasn't part of the official bid committee's courting of the IOC to host the 1998 Winter Games (page 8). The IOC must not have taken the gracious theme of the artwork to heart - Mr. Shiratori told Tokyo bureau chief Cameron Barr that he never received as much as a thank-you note or complimentary ticket to the Games for his artwork, worth an estimated $10,000 to $15,000.

TEETOTALING TEXAS TEENS: On the United States-Mexico border in Ciudad Jurez, correspondent Howard LaFranchi reports that while Mexicans are driving north to buy cheaper gasoline (page 1), the city of El Paso is looking for ways to discourage American teens from heading to Juarez to take advantage of Mexico's legal drinking age of 18. El Paso Mayor Carlos Ramirez said Friday that it is "criminal" to make money from teenagers getting drunk when "they should be studying." The mayor acknowledged discussing teen prohibition with the governor of Mexico's Chihuahua State, but most observers see little possibility that obstacles - such as how cantinas might differentiate American and Mexican 18- to 20-year-olds - could be overcome.

Let us hear from you. Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

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