Today's Story Line

Like Republicans in Congress, opposition parties in Europe's NATO nations find it difficult to make political hay over the war against Yugoslavia. Many of the parties are conservative and weak.

Japan's down-in-the-dumps economy still threatens to rattle world markets. It now has unemployment rates higher than those of the US. But as companies shed workers, they are doing so by bullying, not with pink slips.

The new peace-mongering Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, is beginning to test the willingness of Israel's adversaries to compromise.

Hungary joined NATO - and in effect the West - just days before the war in Kosovo began. Now it's being tested to stand up for Western values by letting NATO jets use its military bases.

- Clayton Jones, World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB.. * WARM PEOPLE IN A HOT SPOT: Jerusalem correspondent Ilene Prusher sees pros and cons to the hospitality that defines everyday life in the Middle East. When she got to the Golan Heights, she called Knesset member Yehuda Harel, the founder of Israel's Third Way Party, and asked if she could interview him at his home in about an hour. Though they had never met before, he immediately obliged. Later that day, she visited a Druse village and got an equally eager welcome mat. A local resident named Iyad immediately offered a full tour of his village of 5,000. It included two monuments to the 1925 Syrian uprising against French rule, a chance to pick samples from cherry and apple orchards, and the best views of Syrian villages in the near distance, separated from Israel by a landmine-rigged border. An hour and-a-half later, renowned Arab hospitality - complete with invitations to elaborate meals - began to kick in just when it was time to leave for an appointment elsewhere. "You can't leave now," insisted Iyad, the self-appointed host, "you haven't seen anything yet."

MILESTONES.. * NET GAIN: On June 1, the remote Buddhist country of Bhutan in the Himalayas opened its the first Internet service. On June 2, it will launch its first television station. Both events mark the king's 25th year on the throne. For years, Bhutan had a policy of isolation, fearing outside influences would undermine its absolute monarchy, freedom, and culture. The arrival of television will herald tremendous social change, said the country's only newspaper, Kuensel, a weekly. "If we are to record the language pattern, interests, sense of humor, values, fashion, and behavior of our children now and repeat it six months later, we will see a dramatic difference," it said in a recent editorial.

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

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