Today's Story Line

Russia may win the Chechen war. But is it marching down the same path that led to the USSR breakup: failing to create a society that its diverse peoples wanted to belong to?

A high turnout for the PRI presidential primary in Mexico indicates that the world's longest ruling party may be getting its second wind.

East and West Berliners are still struggling with "the wall in their heads." Two couples talk about the lingering mental divide on the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Quote of note:

"I don't yearn for East Germany, but a piece of our life has fallen by the wayside." - a former Communist Party member.

- David Clark Scott, World editor


*JOURNALIST NON GRATA: Reporter Fred Weir was trying to interview Russian troops. But the road along the Ingushetia-Chechen border was filled with checkpoints - a bar across the road manned by police or soldiers. The Ingush police waved him through. But the Russian checkpoints were "really tough" to negotiate, says Fred. Finally, he hit a Russian officer who wouldn't budge. An intelligence officer, who called himself Vadim, took Fred's press credentials. He studiously copied every detail and told Fred they were "no good." Fred explained that "these are permanent press credentials issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry for use everywhere. But this guy wouldn't hear it. He told us to get real credentials from the military headquarters." But, says Fred, the Russian military gives credentials only to a select few journalists who will cover the war the way they want it covered. "They say this is how NATO does it in Serbia," says Fred.

*OOPS. LET'S RECALCULATE: Even the most egregious errors can be fixed, as long as it's before deadline. Mexico correspondent Howard LaFranchi's ears perked up at a small briefing with officials from the winning primary campaign of Francisco Labastida. The campaign spokesman said he was able to give reliable results so early because 62 percent of more than 64,000 voting places had closed early for lack of ballots. "Wow, if that's true, isn't that a major problem for the legitimacy of the primary process?" Howard asked. The spokesman hurriedly left the room, and the briefing ended. No sooner had Howard returned to his office when the phone rang with a call from the breathless spokesman. "He wanted to make sure he got me before I hit my deadline," Howard says. The spokesman said he had misspoken. About 15 percent of voting places closed early for lack of ballots (not 62 percent), in a much higher than anticipated turnout, he said.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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