Today's Story Line

The oft-described "fog of war" has settled into largely sealed-off Kosovo, as NATO and Serb officials fire charges that the other side recasts, in turn, as propaganda.

Based on the separate accounts of many of the thousands of refugees pouring out across the Yugoslav border, many into Albania, patterns are emerging that appear to support a stepped-up "ethnic cleansing" campaign by Serbs.

Quote of note: "Small creeks [of evidence] make a big river." - an official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Officials from The Hague tribunal hinted last week they may seek to indict Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes, as they did Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic after the war there (both remain at large). That could signal an end to any lingering prospect of negotiations with Belgrade.

In India the fall of the fourth government in three years came about at the hands of a (truly) multiparty system in which myriad local concerns may have won out over national interests. Quote of note: "The way in which the government has fallen does not augur well for the country, because there were no real issues involved in bringing it down." - an analyst in Delhi.

Across Latin America, meanwhile, the building of democratic systems may be hitting some snags. One idea being advanced by the US: Get help from around the hemisphere in stabilizing political problems before they become crises.

- Clayton Collins

Deputy World editor


* WAR AND OBJECTIVITY: Balkans correspondent Justin Brown, still working from his Belgrade base, reports a growing divide between two sets of journalists: those covering the war from inside Yugoslavia and those reporting from the perimeter - particularly some of those working in Albania and Macedonia. Qualified professionals, he says, are working the story from inside and out. But among English-language journalists, a higher percentage of those now "on the ground" inside, he says, have longer experience (many have residential visas and have lived in Yugoslavia for years). Many of them resent recent charges that they are somehow becoming Belgrade's stooges by giving too much ink or air to charges of Serb civilian deaths and the deaths of ethnic Albanians at the hands of NATO.

Justin counters that too many reporters across the border "run with every possible eyewitness account" of Serb "atrocities" - often seeming to accept them at face value and neglecting to remind readers and viewers sorting through the powerful images that both sides in the conflict have a stake in winning favorable world opinion.

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