Today's Story Line

The endurance of NATO to sustain a multi-month war against Yugoslavia is being put to the test by shifting public opinion and the war's rising costs. Quote of note: "You can carry on [in Yugoslavia] for quite some time, but this decreases our flexibility and increases the danger in other areas of the world." - John Hillen, Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Even as NATO bombs continue to fall, Serbians are thinking about what happens after the war. Some Milosevic opponents are preparing for a power struggle.

So few Islamic nations have full democracy that Indonesia's election reveals what happens when Muslims are given a chance to run for office. Their diversity has resulted in 18 Islamic parties.

What Israel's new prime minister will do about Jewish settlements on the West Bank will indicate his willingness to implement the peace accords. Israel promises to turn over 13 percent of the West Bank to Palestinians.

The latest Russian premier, Sergei Stepashin, is a weak figure, but he's a Yeltsin loyalist and his opposition is weaker after failing to oust the president.

- Clayton Jones, World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB * HOPE IT DOESN'T RAIN: With cabdrivers in Belgrade now charging exorbitant fares, Balkans correspondent Justin Brown has opted to drive his own car around the Serbian capital. Early in the war, he hesitated to do so because his license plates indicate he's American. But now he tones down the visibility of the plates by putting them in the rear window and not washing the car. "I'm famous for having the dirtiest car in Belgrade," he says.

* A LONGHORN FAN IN JAKARTA: When reporter Nicole Gaouette interviewed Nur Mahmudi Ismail, the head of a devout Islamic political party in Indonesia, he was dressed in a serious suit and a crisp white shirt. He gave highbrow answers to questions about the role of religion in politics. When Nicole complimented him on his English, he said he had graduated from an American school and was a big fan of the University of Texas Longhorns.

FOLLOWUP ON A MONITOR STORY * CHILD PROSTITUTION: A Dec. 16 story reported on the international pressure on Japan to ban child prostitution and the use of children in pornography. On Tuesday, the parliament passed a law that prohibits people from having sexual relations with those under 18 in exchange for money and bans the sale and distribution of child pornography. Most of the world's commercially distributed child pornography is produced in Japan.

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