Today's Story Line

Will the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, agree to one step backward now to facilitate a giant step forward in the peace process later? That's what Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak is asking. Quote of note: "Arafat ... isn't going to allow oral promises to make him change written agreements." - director of the Center of Palestine Research.

The US, Japan, and South Korea are leading an international choir that's warning North Korea not to test-fire a new long-range missile. The consequences for all could be grave. But is the mercurial bad boy of Asia listening?

The negative energy is palpable in the suburb of Toronto as neighbors wrestle with a confluence of Eastern and Western beliefs. Should feng shui enter into municipal planning decisions about where to locate buildings?

- David Clark Scott, World editor


*MURAL DIPLOMACY? The US, Japan, and South Korea have been warning North Korea not to go ahead with a missile launch, as the Monitor's Cameron Barr reports. Perhaps to underscore the message, Defense Secretary William Cohen appeared for a press conference in front of a giant United States seal in Tokyo yesterday. The wall-sized mural features a particularly fierce-looking American eagle. On other occasions, Cameron notes, large blue curtains have been drawn over the national bird.

*COLD WAR IN THE NEWSROOM: Reporter Melissa Akin says that at the Moscow Times the most burning issue of this summer is the newsroom A/C temperature setting. The arctic blast produced by the refrigerator-size air conditioner next to her desk "blows a constant stream of frigid air over my shoulder, drowns out telephone conversations, and distracts me when I write," Melissa says. Her main opponent in the air war is "my dear comrade Natalya, who became acquainted with the wonders of artificial cold as a resident of the US." But Melissa is forging an alliance with colleagues who grew up without air conditioning and prefer to take the heat rather than crank up the A/C.


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