Today's Story Line:

High-school shootings. High drug-use and drop-out rates. Five years after the end of apartheid, South Africa's education system - with a few exceptions - is showing no sign of improvement.

Quote of note: "South Africa cannot begin to build its young democracy and lead this continent to prosperity if it does not meet the central challenge of educating its young people." - S. African analyst.

The Israeli-Syrian talks were marked by a steady diet of fish and rice, shooting hoops, and time on the StairMaster. But little personal chemistry.

David Clark Scott World editor


* HOWARD's TEMPTATION: Correspondent Howard LaFranchi recently got a firsthand taste of how bureaucratic red tape opens the door to corruption. Efforts to register a new family car in the appropriate neighborhood government office were unsuccessful because computers were down. At a second office, in another part of Mexico City, an official said the registration couldn't be done there because this was not the LaFranchis' district. Then the official hesitated and said that, "for a price," he could take care of the registration. Howard declined.

*NO JOURNALISTIC DETENTE: Reporter Danna Harman, who was covering the Israeli-Syrian talks for the Jerusalem Post, tried to include Syrian sources in today's story. Normally, journalists work side by side, develop friendships, and share information. But not this time. The Syrian reporters were assigned to one table, the Israeli media to another, and all other journalists to a third. "We couldn't get the Syrians to talk to us and share what they were hearing from the Syrian officials," says Danna. At one point, there was no room at the Israeli table. An Israeli journalist was told by a US State Department official to work at one end of the Syrian table. The Syrian journalists asked the State Department official to remove her. "I think they were under orders not to speak to us," says Danna.

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