Today's Story Line

Among ethnic Albanians, regrouping across various borders after having fled Kosovo, the embattled province may still be home. But the force behind their expulsion by Serbs - which includes the stripping of identity papers and license plates - has helped revive talk of a "Greater Albania". That's not necessarily an endgame shared by the West, concerned about regional culture clashes.

As NATO's war wears on, the alliance has shown unity on the need to halt what it considers a Yugoslav drive to "cleanse" Kosovo. Even Europe's leftist leaders are talking tough - at times painting the US as foot-dragger. Quote of note: "The argument is against American domination of NATO and whether that renders NATO unfit to fight a war because of the bodybag issue." - a European commentator.

- Clayton Collins Deputy World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *GROWING A BERLIN BEAT: Writer Lucian Kim, who details the new shift of the German government to Berlin from Bonn (page 12), recalls watching a decade of the new capital's development. He first visited a divided Berlin in 1988. Peeking across the Brandenburg Gate at the gray East, he says, he never imagined the Wall would crumble in a little more than a year. He next visited in the summer of 1990, after monetary union and months before political unification. Lucian recalls staying with punk-rockers in an old house in East Berlin, with chicken wire hung over the balcony to guard against Molotov cocktails thrown by skinheads. He bicycled all over the city, across the barren strip that is now the renovated Potsdamer Platz. In three more visits he watched the city brighten. In 1996, he moved in.

*STARTING FROM SCRATCH: From Scott Peterson, who reports today on a kind of clan-peace-through-party-lines effort in Somalia (page 8), a glimpse of what rebuilders in that East African country are up against. Nearly a decade without a central government has instilled a certain creativity among thieves. As the anarchy began in 1991, entire factories were dismantled and sold to Arab businessmen. Roaming gangs of looters dug up every foot of telephone and electrical cable under the city, leaving hazardous trenches across main intersections. Electrical transformers were broken into by those seeking to steal the gummy, low-grade oil inside. Today, even the solid gates of the former US Embassy compound, which survived throughout the 1992-94 US and United Nations intervention, have been broken down. So burying new telephone lines underground presents as many problems as stringing it up overhead. "At every plot," jokes a Somali entrepreneur someone says, 'Don't touch my sand!' "

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

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