Today's Story Line

The derailed peace in the Kosovo war has experts trying to figure out Slobodan Milosevic's real strategy. At the least, he's seeking a delay, perhaps to erode the West's willingness for war or to extend the war into the winter.

The world's third-largest democracy was born yesterday in Indonesia. But the election of a parliament is just a prelude to a tough decision in November about who will be the next president. The willing parties are scrambling to cut a deal.

The unresolved murders of more than 180 women in the border city of Ciudad Jurez have changed the way that women's issues are treated in Mexico.

One of the Mideast's longest-running disputes - Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights - has the best chance in 32 years for a solution: Israel elected a peace-mongering prime minister. President Clinton called Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad to warm up negotiations. And the ailing Assad wants to regain the Golan before his son takes power.

While peace remains tenuous for Kosovo, the refugees who were welcomed in Germany find they are being kept on a short leash legally.

- Clayton Jones, World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB.. *PEACE PRICES: Arriving in his room at his usual fleabag hotel in Damascus to report the Syria story, Mideast bureau chief Scott Peterson received a call from the reception desk.

"How much did we charge you for the room last time, sir - $95 a night?"

Scott objected to the price, so the receptionist probed further.

"What are you here for?"

"Peace breaking out between Syria and Israel," Scott replied.

"Oh really?" came the surprised response. "Well, in that case, $65 a night."

*LUNCH HUNCH: In Ciudad Jurez, Latin American bureau chief Howard LaFranchi found the lunch hour there to be pretty much as in his Mexico City home: 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon. So when a contact across the border in El Paso, Texas, suggested a lunch interview, Howard automatically checked his agenda for the 2-4 time slot, and said he was free. "OK, then I'll see you at the restaurant at 11:30," came the contact's response.

*MONEY VS. VOTING: Nicole Gaouette set out to cover the Indonesian election yesterday by hiring a taxi for the day. Since it was a holiday, she thought the driver would be happy to have an all-day fare, especially a foreigner whom he could milk for extra money. But after five hours, he dumped her. The polls were closing at 2 p.m., he said, and he hadn't yet voted.

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