Today's Story Line

One test of NATO's commitment to a multiethnic Kosovo is its ability to protect Serbs who live there. Most of them are fleeing. Quote of note: "If all the Serbs have to leave Kosovo, that would be the biggest failure of the international community." - Bishop Artemije of Prizren.

Little noticed during the war was the flight of Serbs from Serbia. Many opposed both the regime and the bombing. Now they are returning in a state of limbo.

Two Arabs elected to Israel's parliament - one a woman, one an Arafat loyalist - point up a subtle shift in the political landscape of peace.

As more drugs flow from Mexico, US Customs must find new ways to fend off corruption in its ranks.

Britain's Conservatives have elevated a few women members in a bid to win more votes from women.

- Clayton Jones, World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB * GIVE ME YOUR TIRES: Mexico correspondent Howard LaFranchi says drug smugglers use increasingly sophisticated means to get their contraband across the border. He visited a new truck X-ray facility at the border bridge in Ysleta, Texas, and saw customs agents stop a Chihuahua-registered van. It turned out it was carrying specially made metal tubes inside the two front tires, both stuffed with marijuana.

* GENDER BENDER: Israel-based reporter Ilene Prusher visited a crowded cafe in the Arab town of Taibe and found most men were proud that the town was home to the first Arab woman elected to Israel's parliament. "It's very honorable," said Ghazi Jabara. But Ilene looked around the typically male bastion and saw she was the only woman in sight.

PRESS CLIPPINGS * WHICH COMES FIRST? The European Union's agriculture ministers agreed on Tuesday to end the use of small cages for egg-laying hens in favor of more humane means by 2013, reports The Independent newspaper of London. Animal welfare activists were pleased. "Keeping a hen in a barren cage, standing on a sloping wire-mesh floor all their lives, unable even to stretch her wings, is simply not credible any longer," said Joyce D'Silva, director of Compassion in World Farming.

* ARMS TRADE: A global downward trend in military spending continued in 1998, reports the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Military spending was equivalent to $125 per capita and was 2.6 percent of the world's gross domestic product - more than one-third below the 1987 figure. Almost half of all military goods were produced in the US.

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