Today's Story Line

Keeping track of world troublespots - and the US government's role in them - has become essential for any adventurous American traveler who might be targeted simply because of nationality. Conflicts, such the one between Uganda and the Rwandan Hutu rebels in Congo that led to the killing of eight foreign tourists, are often too complex even for US diplomats to monitor.

After World War II, war criminals were jailed or executed. These days, when conflicts are more tangled, countries such as South Africa and Guatemala set up "truth commissions" in a finger-pointing exercise to promote social healing. Quote of note: "Just the information gathering was an important period because it opened a space to face the past, and in many cases people were willing to talk about it for the first time." - Clara Arenas, executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Social Sciences in Guatemala City.

- Clayton Jones World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *BANKING ON THE FAMILY COLLECTION: Latin America correspondent Howard LaFranchi uses ATMs at Mexican banks that are part of the same international banking network as his Texas bank, thus avoiding the high cost of wire transfers. The system also works in many of the countries he visits in the region.

Now Mexico's government is recommending to Mexican nationals living in the US that they, too, take advantage of the ATMs to transfer the estimated $6 billion in remittances that they send back to family members every year. The government admits that its aim is to create competition so the more traditional money-wiring companies will reduce their high fees and offer better exchange rates. It also says migrant workers may run into problems in opening an account, such as a residency requirement. Another problem Howard sees: How do stateside workers keep family members back home from withdrawing more money than they want them to?

CLIPPINGS *AFGHAN BANS: British media are reporting a new taboo imposed in Afghanistan by the ruling, radical Islamic group Taliban. Young men wearing leather jackets have been taken off the street and had the jackets ripped up. One possible explanation: Such jackets represent Western clothes. Other things banned so far, according to the Independent newspaper: televisions, videocassette recorders, cameras, chess, homing pigeons, fighting partridges, short beards and long hair (for men), brown paper bags (in case they were manufactured from pages from the Koran), white socks for women, and musical instruments except the tambourine.

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