Today's Story Line:

Periscopes ready? Take a look at the possible events next year around the globe. In some regions,1999 could be a turnaround year.

Why are the British so wary of the euro? London-based writer Alex MacLeod finds out at the port closest to Europe.

Pity them not, but Russia's oligarchs are suffering along with the common folk.

- Clayton Jones

World editor


* THE WHITE VANS OF DOVER: Alexander MacLeod, who chose the English Channel port city of Dover to look at the anti-euro mood in Britain, has this advice for anyone driving to France: If you don't want to be detained for smuggling on the return journey, don't drive a white van. A British customs officer told Alex that alcohol and cigarette bootleggers plying a vigorous trade between Dover and the French ports of Calais and Boulogne almost invariably use white Ford vans or their French or German counterparts. "I don't know why so many of the vans are white. Perhaps they think it's a neutral color and won't be noticed. It is," the officer said. Alex's car is a safe shade of red.


*'UNNATURAL' DISASTERS: Weather-related disasters set a new record in 1998, causing at least $89 billion in economic losses worldwide during the first 11 months - much more than the $55 billion in such losses for all of the 1980s. The estimate is from the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental organization that notes some of the worst events were "unnatural" disasters, worsened by the "hand of man." For example, the deforestation of hillsides kept rainfall from being absorbed and allowed it to cause damaging floods and landslides. In another report, the Institute looked at the rapid rise in human use of Earth's resources (see chart below).

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