Today's Story Line

Europe's bid to match the might of the American economy with a unified currency is faltering. The value of the euro, launched five months ago, has drooped. But having a single monetary market has triggered a wave of company mergers.

Groups eager to use "conflict resolution" techniques in world troublespots have found success in Macedonia, where the flood of refugees from Kosovo has raised Serb-Albanian tensions.

Israel's vote for a dovish prime minister brought both elation and caution among Arabs. At the least, talks on several Mideast issues may now resume.

In Tatarstan, a corner of Russia that has seen the number of Muslim mosques jump from 16 to 1,000 since the days of Soviet repression, men are signing up to fight for the Muslims in Kosovo. But officials want to quell such emotions, for fear it might touch off a Chechnya-like movement to separate from Russia. Quote of note: "We believe Islam can be a unifying force, but a peaceful, nonideological one." - Raphael Khakimov, a presidential aide.

The Summer Olympics are no longer a benign festival of sport, especially in the land of their origin. Athens, which hosts the Games in 2004, has fought the burning of forests by developers. It's also plowing a new subway through ancient archeological sites to get in shape for the even. Quote of note: "You have to destroy something to proceed." - Olga Zachariado of the Archaeological Service. To keep visiting athletes breathing easily, the city - which was tagged as the smoggiest in the European Union - has reduced air pollution by a third over the past decade.

-Clayton Jones, World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *WAITING TO INHALE: While working on a story about air pollution in Greece, reporter Ilene Prusher found it pretty comfortable to take a breath in Athens on most days. The one place where it wasn't quite so easy was the office of the government official in charge of air quality, the director-general for environment. Without asking Ilene if she'd mind, he fired up a large pipe and puffed on it throughout the interview, filling the small, closed-window room with a thicker cloud than any smog Ilene could see over Athens.

*SAVING FACE: Jordan's King Abdullah recently met with Mideast bureau chief Scott Peterson and other journalists at his palace. The new king talked about cool ties with Israel under outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He was careful not to take sides in Israel's May 17 election. But the king did mention that "a new face in Israel" would help the peace process. He quickly took that back, and said that he had in fact said he would welcome a "new phase."

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

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