Today's Story Line:

Like an ink-blot personality test, the Clinton impeachment trial draws vastly different reactions around the world. In many countries, the trial has high ratings. On-the-street comments gathered by our correspondents reveal as much about what's happening in other nations as in America. Quote of note: "I could not imagine anything like President Clinton's affair being written about in the press here if it concerned a top Chinese leader." - a professor at Beijing University.

Loan-defaulting Russia wants more respect from America while America wants specific actions from Russia. In Moscow, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright tried to cool cold-war atmospherics.

Germany's new leftist government, which includes the Greens, has quickly discovered that they can't easily pull the plug on nuclear power plants. - Clayton Jones World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB * CLINTON TRIAL AND NIXON IN CHINA: Beijing reporter Kevin Platt can't get into a cab these days without being asked about President Clinton's impeachment trial. Once people find out Kevin is American, even government officials want to know the latest on the trial. China's state-run press generally has been publishing rather dry accounts of the goings-on. But some of the bolder papers have been using the opportunity to write about President Nixon's brush with impeachment, something most Chinese have never heard about. Nixon is still revered for having begun the thaw in relations between the US and China. His resignation occurred during Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution, a time when the government certainly wouldn't have wanted people to know that the leader of a powerful country could be removed from office by law.

PRESS CLIPS * FORECASTING EARTHQUAKES: Colombia's devastating earthquake Jan. 25 raises again the question of whether scientists can ever accurately forecast such quakes. Japanese researchers have tried for years, but they worry that public warning of a quake might create panic in urban areas. In China, the government last month decided to punish anyone who spreads false rumors of impending quakes. "There have been quite a few adverse rumors about earthquakes in past years," the China Daily quoted an unidentified official as saying. "In some cases, thousands of residents scurried to the streets for safety because of false alarms." Last January, rumors of impending quakes raced around Beijing after a quake 150 miles north of the capital killed 50 people. The new rules allow for a fine of up to $24 and 15 days in detention for spreading false or misleading quake predictions.

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

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