Today's Story Line:

Saddam Hussein's chest-thumping over the weekend, holding out the prospect of striking at American airbases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, is sure to trigger more talk about an Iraq after Saddam.

Mideast bureau chief Scott Peterson tracked down the leading figure in Iraq's opposition movement, Iran-based Mohammad Bakr al-Hakim. The right kind of Western backing, Mr. Hakim says - military, not just monetary - would open the way for change from within. Others disagree. Quote of note: "Then [the groups] would become our wards. It is unfeasible." - Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser under President Bush.

The issue of sending NATO troops to Yugoslavia has been a sticking point at talks on Kosovo outside Paris. A less-publicized aspect of the plan Western diplomats are pushing on Serbs and ethnic Albanians outside Paris: stepped-up pressure on Yugoslavia to abide by the international court. That may mean war-crimes prosecution at high levels of government.

Also, nations debate how to restrict toxic pesticides and chemicals; Britain edges away from welfare; and Russia's plight means mass releases from crowded prisons - as a trial there gauges the freedom of minority religions.

- Clayton Collins Deputy World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB * ALL ACCESS (PLUS SNACK): If press passes are any judge of civilization, then Iran has moved into the top position across the Middle East, reports Scott Peterson. In most countries around the region, not-always-wanted journalists are given flimsy, poorly printed passes. But those showing up in Iran to cover the 20th anniversary of the Islamic revolution last week were treated to a state-of-the-art pass: The Ministry of Islamic Guidance sat each journalist down in front of a camera attached to a computer, and out popped a passport-quality ID. How useful was that? As Scott arrived after dark at the headquarters of Iraqi opposition leader Mohammad Bakr al-Hakim, Iranian soldiers rushed the car. (Iraqi agents are said to have killed both Mr. Hakim's father and his brother.) The flashy pass worked its magic: Scott was welcomed in and offered a cup of hot chocolate.

* CELLBLOCK CLEARANCE: When writer Judith Matloff visited a Russian prison to report today's story, she carried away more than notes. As she left, officials came out to her car and wedged in a sack of wood carvings produced by inmates. The gift was yet another indication of economic meltdown: Prisoners, whose paid labor was once integral to major industries such as textiles, have in some cases been relegated to such "make work" - if creatively liberating - endeavors as sculpture.

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