Today's Story Line

NATO's raining of firepower on Yugoslavia has translated to rain on its own 50th-anniversary parade. But as the alliance meets this weekend, officials are using the conflict as a basis for rethinking NATO's reach and role.

For one thing, Kosovo appears to have pointed up an imbalance in American and European military capabilities: Europe's forces were designed to hold the line against a Soviet onslaught; the US military was built to fight far from home. Quote of note: "The Europeans quickly come to the limits of what they can do because they have old-fashioned forces." - European NATO diplomat.

In Turkey, an old East-West crossroads and current NATO linchpin, a strong showing by ultranationalists in last weekend's elections could reverberate though the Balkans and beyond.

And in an old North-South story - immigration from Mexico to the United States - new trends include more middle-class migrants, including women.

- Clayton Collins Deputy World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB * BOYS ON THE BUS: Western journalists in Belgrade are a fairly rare breed these days. But even so, there are too many of them to fit on the buses supplied for Yugoslav Army-regulated tours, the only way most reporters have of getting out beyond Belgrade. In fact, it's becoming quite a free-for-all to get a seat on the bus, says Balkans correspondent Justin Brown. Before his recent trip to Novi Sad, he says, a fistfight broke out between two writers vying for a coveted seat. Army officials broke up the scuffle, and Justin, meanwhile, managed to board the bus with less fanfare. Justin's Belgrade hotel stands some 200 yards from the building pictured on page 7.

* CROSS-BORDER CAREERS: Today's story from Mexico on the feminization of illegal immigration springs from the personal experience of Mexico City correspondent Howard LaFranchi, who lost his small son's haircutter to Salt Lake City. It's not an altogether new event in Howard's Mexico stint. Already in January 1995 the family maid snuck across the California border and landed up in Oakland. Howard says her family reports his former employee is well and working there in the Bay Area. During a recent trip to his home state, California, he reports he also had a chance to get the employer's point of view on illegal immigration from an apple-growing uncle. Howard's uncle said he simply can't find Americans willing to do the field work he needs done. He also reported that the Mexicans now working for him - who are legal - are constantly after him to sponsor their families' moves up from Mexico.

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