Today's Story Line

Colombia struck a deal April 25 with the smaller of two leftist rebel groups operating in the country. But a UN report says the right-wing paramilitary groups are operating with impunity.

In Asia, India has garnered a reputation as a hothouse for computer experts. But in Europe, Hungary is emerging as the nation with a silicon edge.

To take the political and social pulse of Kuwait, go to a diwaniya.

David Clark Scott World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

*KICK BOXING IN KUWAIT: The Monitor's Ilene Prusher got a first-hand taste of modern Kuwait. A young Kuwaiti woman invited Ilene to her Saturday night kickboxing class. Kuwaiti men and women - mostly in their 20s and 30s - had a sweaty and raucous workout together. "It was a 'kick' - my first time kick boxing! It was also a good window into the diversity of the culture," says Ilene. "It let me see that although this is a conservative Islamic society, it's not starkly black and white - with women staying at home and men going to diwaniyas." By the way, Ilene adds, "The instructor, an Egyptian muscleman, was a real slave driver."

FOLLOW-UP ON A MONITOR STORY..

*SMOKING TAB: A Spanish regional government intends to sue international tobacco companies unless they agree to pay a part of its health budget. As reported on Sept. 22, European nations are starting to adopt a legal strategy used in the US. Andalusia, a tobacco-producing region, incurs costs of more than 60 billion pesetas ($350 million) annually for treating health problems caused by smoking, reports El Pais, a Spanish daily. If the suit is filed, it would be the first time that a European government has taken legal action against tobacco companies, El Pais said.

CULTURAL SNAPSHOT.. FEE, FIE, FOE, FUM: Torrens Parsons, age 6, takes on Emanual Yarbrough (704 lbs.) at an Easter Show in New Zealand.

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