Today's Story Line:

A Russian general predicts Grozny will fall "in days." But taking the last city in Chechnya isn't likely to be the end of the rebels. The mountains are a better battlefield.

Quote of note: "Taking cities is very important from a political point of view, but the guerrillas will be around for a long time." - a Russian official.

The scale of the Chechen refugee exodus pales in comparison with the resettlement program in Rwanda and Burundi. A million people are being shoehorned into new villages as part of a massive social engineering plan.

What would life be like without Pokmon ads? There's momentum in Europe to limit TV ads aimed at children. Greece bans toy ads. Sweden, Norway, Austria, and Belgium also already restrict ads.

David Clark Scott World editor


* THE WISH LIST IS LONGER: European correspondent Peter Ford has found Christmas shopping for his two sons, ages 6 and 8, a good deal harder since he moved from Moscow to Paris. While working on today's story about advertising, Peter recalled the good ol' days in Russia. In Moscow, Peter says, his boys knew that none of the toys that they saw advertised on cable TV, beamed in from Europe and the United States, could be found in the local shops, so they did not ask for them. "Now they see the same toys in the ads and on the store shelves, so the pressure is on," says Peter. Especially now that they know who Father Christmas really is....


*SLAVE LABOR SETTLEMENT: US and German negotiators reached a deal to establish a $5.2 billion fund to compensate people forced to work for the German companies during World War II. As reported in the Monitor on Dec. 10, the talks nearly collapsed. But a breakthrough came after the German government boosted its offer to $2.6 billion, augmenting $2.6 billion pledged by industry. Forced laborers would be paid between $2,600 and $3,125, said Germany's top negotiator. Slave laborers, once held in concentration camps, would get $7,800.


* DEBT REPAID WITH A SHAVE: How much is a moustache worth? When an Indian farmer from the central state of Madhya Pradesh failed to repay a bank loan, he was forced to shave his moustache, the United News of India reports. A legislator complained that the punishment was too harsh. Moustaches are considered signs of manhood in many areas of India, and their removal would be humiliating.

Let us hear from you.

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