Today's Story Line

Most international investors have written off Russia as an economic backwater, but in one area - selling off giant Soviet-era enterprises - Moscow is showing resolve for free-market reform.

As India suffers from a rise in violent Hinduism, one famous film actress (who's a Muslim) is trying to douse the country's culture wars with carefully chosen roles and political activism. Quote of note: "A test for any society, any democracy, is the question of how it treats its minorities. We have to show in a new way that we can pass the test." - Shabana Azmi.

Hoping to declare a Palestinian state, President Yasser Arafat is learning how to balance rule of law with the power of large family clans.

A rite of passage for flying globe-trotters is experiencing Frankfurt Airport.

- Clayton Jones World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

*INTERNET IN GAZA: In order to meet the immediate family of Rifat Joudeh, who was killed in a shoot-out last month in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, Jerusalem-based writer Ilene Prusher first had to see one of his cousins - a loosely used term in a clan of about 7,000. While Rifat was a Palestinian police officer, his cousin Nabil Joudeh recently opened an Internet cafe in Gaza. There were no bran muffins, or biscotti for sale, just an array of new computers to use. Typing away were young Palestinians, many of them women wearing proper Islamic head scarves. Telecommunications in Gaza are still poor, and Nabil, a techie-type swimming in an oversized sweater, hopes to bring in about 30 to 40 clients a day, charging just 5 shekels per hour for students (about $1.25) and 8 shekels ($2) for adults. "You need to start cheap," he says.

PUBLIC OPINION..

*WHEN TO SEND US TROOPS: As NATO debates airstrikes on Serbs for not signing a Kosovo peace deal - a debate heightened yesterday by new evidence that Serbs executed civilians recently in the town of Racak - here's a look at how Americans feel about when to use US troops. In all scenarios cited below, according to a poll released Monday by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the Gallup Organization, a sample of "national leaders" - including politicians, academics, and community leaders - were more likely than a sampling from the general public to favor troop deployment (in several cases about twice as likely). Here's how "the public" weighed in:

*If Serbian forces killed large numbers of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo: 38%

*If North Korea invaded South Korea: 30%

*If China invaded Taiwan: 27%

*If Iraq invaded Saudi Arabia: 46%

Let us hear from you.

Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

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