Today's Story Line

The Osama bin Laden connection. That's what authorities are exploring after the arrests of suspected terrorists in the US, Jordan, and Pakistan.

Are Israelis ready to give up the Golan Heights in exchange for peace?

A suicide bomber failed to eliminate the president of Sri Lanka. In fact, it may help her reelection on Tuesday.

David Clark Scott, World editor


*CALLING BUZZ LIGHTYEAR: Correspondent Howard LaFranchi, in Caracas, Venezuela, for last week's vote on a new constitution, stayed to cover the flooding and clean-up - whether he wanted to or not. All flights out of the Caracas international airport were canceled until Dec. 28, Howard was told. "I really felt torn between empathy with all these families who have lost loved ones and homes in the flooding, and my own preoccupation with being trapped somewhere, away from my own family at Christmastime," he says. When Howard told four-year-old son, Gabriel, on the telephone that a landslide had cut him off from the airport, Gabriel seemed puzzled that his dad hadn't tried the Buzz Lightyear solution: "Dad, you just push the button in the car, and the wings come out, and it flies you over the mud." As of yesterday, Howard hadn't yet found a winged rental car.

*SECURITY AND STOCKINGS: The US State Department took the rare step of warning Americans in a specific country - Jordan - to be alert to terrorist attacks. The Monitor's Scott Peterson didn't have to go far to verify stepped-up security. His British wife, Alex, took their two young children to a weekly book reading and craft activity at the US Embassy. Upon arrival, Alex was diverted to a different entrance, and five guards searched the car for suspicious items. "What are they doing?" asked the ever-observant, four-year-old, Olivia. "Keeping bad people out," said Alex breezily. Once inside, Olivia's attention quickly shifted to making the perfect paper Christmas stocking.


IRIS YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS: A worker cleans the giant face at Luna Park, a theme park in Melbourne, Austrailia.

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