Today's Story Line

With the death of Hsing-Hsing, the last of a pair of pandas that China gave to former President Nixon, we find the cuddly animals are now worth millions. And we learn what China is doing with the money it's raking in from their rentals. Quote of note: "Baby pandas are more difficult and expensive to raise than human babies." - Beijing zookeeper, Zong Ying.

Just after 10th anniversary celebrations for the fall of the Berlin Wall, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl admitted his involvement in a financial scandal. Quote of note: "A monument is crumbling." - Berlin newspaper.

The US is considering food aid to the rebel faction in Sudan's south that is fighting the Islamic government. Would this simply be humanitarian aid or would it help the rebels extend their war against a regime accused by the US of sponsoring terrorism?.

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A look at personality politics in Russia ahead of Dec. 19 Duma elections.

Faye Bowers Deputy world editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB.

PANDA POWER: The Monitor's Kevin Platt was "a little shocked" when he read on the National Zoo's Web site that Hsing-Hsing had attracted 3 million visitors annually. And an American student who works part time at the Monitor's office in Beijing told him he remembered exactly where he was when the news of Ling- Ling's death was broadcast in 1992. The panda isn't such a big deal in China, where people have seen them their whole lives. Visitors to the Beijing zoo, for example, stroll past the panda cages at the same pace as most other exhibits. But the animal can strike fear into the hearts of some Chinese: It is the only animal in China whose capture triggers the death penalty for poachers.

CULTURAL SNAPSHOT.

HOMECOMING: After 24 years of exile, Jos Ramos-Horta returned to his home in East Timor on Wednesday. Thousands of supporters greeted him chanting, "Viva Ramos Horta." In an emotional homecoming speech, he played down his role in East Timor's independence - for which he was awarded the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize - and paid tribute to those who remained behind to fight for freedom.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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