Today's Story Line

When NATO hit China's embassy in Belgrade Friday, there were reverberations beyond Beijing. Moscow - opposed to strikes on Russia's Slavic cousins in Yugoslavia to begin with - saw the mishap as just the latest fallout from a wrongheaded foreign policy originating in Washington. Quote of note: "When the United States chose to ignore Russian hopes of partnership after the Soviet Union fell apart, and decided to reshape Europe using NATO ... as their instrument, the stage was set for disaster." - a Russian analyst.

Indonesia looks toward its June elections with the optimism of a young democracy and the wariness of a nation coping with the legacy of a military regime.

Tumult ahead of the May 17 elections in Israel reflects a "balkanization" of the electorate into backers of special-interest groups. Even with the party of driving instructors having dropped out, more than 30 political tribes remain. What will that mean for big-gun parties Labor and Likud?

In Peru, the singer who may become the hottest Latin star since Selena is also rocking the social structure at home.

- Clayton Collins Deputy World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *READY FOR ANYTHING: In Jakarta to cover the run-up to elections, Tokyo-based writer Nicole Gaouette says last year's tension has given way to boisterous political expression, with roads strung with political banners and newsstands offering some 900 new newspapers and magazines in response to a lifting of press restrictions. But despite the general optimism, many in Jakarta are preparing for the possibility of election violence. Amid a rise in the crime rate partly attributable to the economic crisis, profits for the security sector have soared in the past year. Hotels are touting their security instead of their saunas - for instance, how long they can last on internal resources if electricity and water are cut off, or whether they have a helipad on the roof for quick getaways. And many wealthier Jakartans, particularly the Chinese, are taking a preemptive approach. In the week before the June 7 vote, flights out of the capital are almost full, a travel agent told Nicole.

PRESS CLIPPING *MILLENNIUM MARKETING: At least one Monitor editor has been offered, by e-mail, a chance to pay in advance for a crystal exposed to the "first light" of the year 2000. Now comes word that the government of New Zealand is trying to buy TV rights to that same first sunlight, which London's Royal Geographical Society says will hit a hill in the Chatham Islands, 500 miles east of Wellington. Two hitches so far: There's a good chance Pitt Island will be mist-shrouded Jan. 1. And the Chatham Islanders want more money.

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