Today's Story Line

south africa's new deputy defense minister is a pacifist. A gaffe or stroke of genius? Actually, there's a certain logic to it, given that the defense budget has been cut by 60 percent and this minister sees the troops as regional peacekeepers rather than warriors. Quote of note: "Quakerism is about recognizing and upholding life, and being a Quaker helps me ... to think deeply about issues, and I believe we need that to achieve peace." - Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge

An empty chair - for the uninvited Slobodan Milosevic - at this past weekend's Balkans reconstruction meeting was a powerful symbol. But the region's major land and water transportation routes go through Yugoslavia. How effective will it be to give billions in economic aid to the Balkans but withhold it from Belgrade? Quote of note: "The main problem is that we are at the center of the region. Without Serbia, it cannot be a full success." - a Belgrade economist

The aggressive, bulbous-eyed goby fish from the Black Sea is the latest Great Lakes foreign invader. But officials are moving quickly to contain it.

- David Clark Scott, World editor


*WHY POLITICIANS GO HUNGRY: The secretary was doing her job, protecting her boss. "I'm sorry but you'll have to wait until the minister has her lunch," she told reporter Corinna Schuler. But lunch hadn't arrived, and the half hour allotted for the interview with South Africa's deputy defense minister was slipping away. Spotting the deputy minister, Corinna pleaded her case. "My rule is not to do interviews during lunch," said Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge. "But your lunch hasn't yet arrived, and I've so much to ask you," Corinna persisted. The minister ultimately relented. Corinna got the interview, but ruefully adds, "She only managed to get one bite of her fish and chips before her next appointment. Two reporters from Bilt, the Africaaner newspaper, were waiting in the outer office."

*COCA-COLA FOR CARS: One of the difficulties in getting around Yugoslavia is the gasoline shortage. Reporter Lucian Kim finished doing some research at a Belgrade office early one evening last week and tried to call a cab. The taxi company couldn't send a car because "we don't have any more gas." Lucian went into the street and eventually hailed a cab. He says gas smuggled into the country is often sold on the street corners or out of the trunk of a car. "It's a little scary because it's sold in plastic coke bottles by some guy who's usually smoking a cigarette," says Lucian.

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