Today's Story Line

Teachers in Japan, who commanded high respect in the past, report a sharp decline in discipline among students. They call it "classroom collapse." Many blame a society where children often feel unloved. One teacher, however, won over students by dealing with issues in their lives, such as bullying and smoking.

As more Central Americans flee north to the US after hurricane Mitch, President Clinton heads south to the devastated region for four days. He hopes to offer an unusual gift: NAFTA-like trade concessions to boost the hard-hit economies.

- Clayton Jones World editor

FOLLOW-UP ON THE NEWS *ROUND THE WORLD: One of two balloon teams trying to be the first to circumnavigate the globe nonstop dropped out yesterday. The Cable and Wireless balloon ditched off Japan. Its two British pilots cited bad weather and a lack of permission to overfly China as reasons to stop. "I don't think we have failed. We have just found another way that doesn't work," said pilot Andy Elson. An Anglo-Swiss balloon, the Breitling Orbiter 3, was heading toward India today and has permission to fly over a narrow corridor of China (see a photo in the March 2 Monitor).

*DEEDS, NOT COUPS: Venezuela's newly elected president, Hugo Chavez, has ordered 70,000 troops to perform civic work - such as giving haircuts to kids - in a program to tackle a social crisis. Seven years ago, the former army lieutenant-colonel led an unsuccessful military coup.

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