Today's Story Line

The incredible shrinking Europe. A preview of a UN study due out in March, shows that smaller families and an aging population will threaten pension funds, government budgets, and industrial output. Japan faces a similar challenge. But in the US, expect a lot less elbow room.

There's emerging evidence of major lapses in communication among Indian officials during recent crises with hijackers and Pakistan. Does India have proper checks in place for a nuclear crisis?

A closer look at the Hizbullah's role in any Middle East peace accord .

David Clark Scott World editor


*TRUST BUILDING PAYS OFF: Access to the higher ranks of Islamic guerrillas in Lebanon is rare, and all the more for an American citizen like Mideast correspondent Scott Peterson. During the past decade, he has interviewed numerous guerrillas of every political stripe. But reaching the top levels of Hizbullah has taken by far the most effort - a sign of how careful this militia is with information and its image. After several attempts over two years, Scott interviewed the Hizbullah's spiritual leader in 1997 - an important confidence building step.

On this trip, Scott's track record, contacts, and trust building paved the way for an interview with the leader of the Hizbullah, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah. Even so, security checks took days. The Hizbullah went online to review Scott's stories in the region. His residence in Jordan, an Arab country, didn't hurt. Journalists residing in Israel need not apply.

Finally, he was escorted to a Beirut compound ringed with cement blocks - like any US Embassy, to prevent car bombs. "There are metal detectors and document searches at the door," says Scott. "I had to leave extraneous gear and passports behind, while cameras and tape recorders - even ink pens and notebooks - were taken away to be examined." His tools of the trade were returned at the last moment, with just enough time for Scott to reassemble before being introduced to the Hizbullah leader.


*WARNING ADS DEBUT: As anticipated in the Jan. 6 edition, Canadian officials proposed new regulations Wednesday requiring cigarette packages to have graphic representations - charts or photos - of the health risks scientists have linked to tobacco. The new labels would cover fully half of the front and back of each pack. Two US legislators said they would introduce legislation to require similar photos on US tobacco products, with labels covering 50 percent of the pack. US labels now cover 20 percent of the package.

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