Today's Story Line:

Call it a cold peace.

As during the cold war, America is seeing other nations form alliances or coalitions against it. The sheer dominance of a sole superpower evokes a scramble for collective strength in numbers.

Examples: In economics, Japan is rallying crisis-hit Asian nations against the American-led reforms of the International Monetary Fund. In culture, Canada and France want other nations to curb American media and films. In trade, Europe launches the euro to challenge the dollar. China, in general, tries to win friends by opposing American "hegemony" (overbearing dominance).

Now, tiny Serbia is facing a US ultimatum to end the Kosovo slaughter and is quietly seeking partners against the threat. Russia is the key supporter.

In Northern Ireland, last year's peace agreement has all but ended big attacks on civilians. But a new wave of gang-style vigilante violence has split the British government over how to keep it from spiraling out of control.

International law experts are closely watching the court trial in Croatia of a World War II concentration camp commander. The case is intertwined with Croatia's recent atrocities against Serbs and its campaign to become a member of Europe.

Seems simple. To reduce fighting in hockey, why not reward a team for playing nice as well as penalizing its players who fight. In Canada, the idea is catching on among amateur teams. Are the pros watching?

- Clayton Jones World editor

UPDATES ON MONITOR STORIES *PERSIAN PARTY TIME: Iran's experiment with more openness includes making the Islamic Republic more accessible to foreign tourists. Last month, the Islamic republic began allowing tourists from Ukraine to fly to Iran's Persian Gulf island of Kish (pronounced keesh), according to Iran News, where they can frolic in the surf. Kish, as was reported by the Monitor on Jan. 14, 1998, has been set up as a special free-trade zone designed to maximize Iran's intended role as a gateway to the markets of the newly free - and largely Muslim - nations of Central Asia.

*THE GREENING OF EUROPE: Even though many forests are declining, Europe's commercial forests are growing faster than they can be economically harvested, according to new figures from the European Forest Institute, an umbrella group based in Finland. Its researchers say one reason is the EU's increased import of timber, heightening the region's own "timber mountain" of oversupply.

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