Today's Story Line

China's orbiting of an unmanned spacecraft - 38 years after Russia first put a man in orbit - is mostly about prestige and emerging technical prowess (page 1).

In Eastern Europe, the use of less-than state-of-the-art nuclear technology may pose problems for countries seeking European Union membership (this page).

France became the world's first predominantly Roman Catholic country to grant same-sex couples the same rights as married couples (page 1).

- David Clark Scott, World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB

*METER-FREE LIVING: When it gets cold in Eastern Europe, most people don't think twice about cranking up the electric heater, says reporter Lucian Kim. That hints at another problem that may arise when these countries seek entry to the European Union. Along with questions about the use of nuclear power, Lucian says a conservation attitude adjustment may lie ahead. For most folks, "Socialism meant you could be oblivious to energy prices," says Lucian. When he lived in the Czech Republic, "no one thought about how much electricity cost because it was subsidized. So, everyone used big electric heaters."

*MISSION CONTROL: The Monitor's Kevin Platt heard the rumors that China planned to orbit a spacecraft capable of carrying humans. Most experts thought it would happen on Oct. 1, the 50th anniversary of the Communist revolution. But Kevin, and most Chinese, found out about the milestone in the Sunday morning newspapers. When he called nearly a dozen sources in China's space program, only one would talk to him. "There seems to be a standing order: 'Don't talk to the foreign press.' " Kevin suspects that well-publicized space mishaps in 1996 have made Beijing careful to release only good news. "For all we know, there may have been failed attempts to orbit a spacecraft before now, but no one will talk about it."

CULTURAL SNAPSHOT

BOAT PEOPLE: Forty-eight teams from around the world compete in a six-day race in New Zealand that includes kayaking, running, and mountain biking.

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

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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