Today's Story Line

A suggested gordian-knot solution to the Yugoslav war is to cut Kosovo in half: the north for the Serbs, the south for Albanians. Alas, that would violate NATO's principle of not redrawing an international border. If talks ever really begin, this idea may bring about table-banging.

Another negotiation-stopper will be identifying who is a Kosovar Albanian. Serb forces stripped many fleeing refugees of their IDs, a way to "cleanse" them of any official claim to a Kosovo home. NATO insists they all return. The UN is scrambling to register the refugees.

Behind China's outrage over the bombing of its embassy was an official fear that a far-superior US military might someday intervene in an internal Chinese dispute, such as Tibet. Its army wants to upgrade its defense technology, but that would undercut China's economic goals.

Mideast peace may depend on who wins Israel's election, and the swing voters are Russian immigrants, who are unhappy with the right-wing government.

A thought for food: Russians hit by economic woes rely more than ever on their gardens, while Mexican farmers hit by US grain imports are turning to exotic foods for high-priced exports.

- Clayton Jones World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB

* NOT TAKING IT PERSONALLY: This week has seemed to mark the worst of times and best of times of life as an American in Beijing. Since anti-US protests began last week, many Americans have feared the streets of Beijing. Yet while many Chinese acquaintances have turned Beijing correspondent Kevin Platt into a nonperson by ignoring his telephone calls, others have gone out of their way to invite him to lunch or to their homes to escape these times of tension. When surrounded by an angry mob of anti-American protesters, Kevin was pulled to safety by a Chinese friend. A Chinese official, aware that his telephone could be tapped, called to make sure he was allright following the protests and said he hoped the conflict would soon end. One Chinese friend who happened to be interviewed by a local newspaper was asked about the embassy bombing. He dared to reply that he was opposed to all forms of violence, including the random attacks on foreigners by Beijing residents.

* HEBREW, PLEASE: While reporting on Russian immigrants, Jerusalem correspondent Ilene Prusher found it difficult to talk with newcomers lacking enough Hebrew to articulate their views. How things have changed. Years ago, says a woman who emigrated from Romania in her youth, it wasn't unusual for a stranger on a bus to yell at others speaking languages of the Diaspora: "Daber Ivrit!" (speak Hebrew!).

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

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