Today's Story Line

By , World Editor of The Christian Science Monitor

NATO trudged up to its 50th anniversary weighed down by its struggle in Yugoslavia. The humanitarian cost of the conflict - for which NATO blames the government in Belgrade, and Belgrade blames NATO - rises. Conditions in many refugee camps are tough, as aid officials eye an even bigger wave.

There seems to be a standing down in Moscow, meanwhile, after some saber-rattling that recalled the cold war (and hinted at a hot one, if Western ground troops were to become involved) a more concilatory approach is attributed to internal politics. Plus, Moscow may not be able to afford that saber.

In the world beyond warfare, the mayor of Bogot, Colombia, has takes an ambitious tack toward renovation that is stirring up criticism. Britain weighs a proposal to model its House of Lords on the US Senate. And a global boom in high-rise building has many cities reaching for the skies.

Recommended: How well do you know 'Pride and Prejudice'?

- Clayton Collins Deputy World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *AMONG THE DISPLACED: Though conditions for the hordes of foreign journalists in Kukes, Albania, are nowhere near as harsh as those of the Kosovar refugees, reporting the crisis is tough. The decrepit state-owned Hotel Albturist, reopened after being shuttered for years, is unheated. Mountain winds blast through cracked windows and warped sills. Most rooms lack hot water and toilets, and in a throwback to Albania's Stalinist past, guests must get permission to stay each day from the municipal prefect. The communications system is so creaky that it is easier to call the capital, Tirana, by satellite phone than via land lines. It is faster to walk through town than drive; the streets, with huge potholes, are clogged by the trucks, tractors, buses, and cars of refugees, residents, and aid workers.

It can be dangerous working in Kukes. The town is in the poorest region of Europe's poorest state, and the lure of lucrative pickings has drawn legions of local villains. Several journalists have been robbed. There are also a few pleasant surprises, like the bustling restaurant that specializes in barbecued chicken, cooked on large spits. And the local people have thrown open their arms to both the journalists and the desperate refugees they have come to write about.

PRESS CLIPPINGS *KING KONG'S LATEST OPTION: Developers in Taipei, Taiwan, have just been given the green light to extend a financial building to an unprecedented 1,676 feet. That counts a 198-foot antenna, however, meaning the "world's tallest" reign of a pair of Malaysian giants) will be unthreatened by most experts' standards.

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