Today's Story Line

International observers play a pivotal role in Latin America's democratic processes.

The environmentally friendly scooter is on a roll in Paris.

As dotcoms in South Korea offer more attractive options to young workers, the chaebol lose their luster.

Faye Bowers Deputy world editor


NIGHT FLIGHT: When European correspondent Peter Ford eked out a precarious existence as a busker (street performer) on the streets of Paris 25 years ago, he kept a 100-franc note in reserve at all times: That was the price of the 10-hour journey by night train and cross-Channel ferry back home to London.

Today, he takes the Eurostar chunnel train: it takes only three hours, but it costs a whopping 1,550 Francs ($220). "Still," Peter says, "I don't have to sleep on an open deck".

DON'T TELL MEXICO: Latin America correspondent Howard LaFranchi says he's now used to Mexicans and some other Latin Americans calling him a "norteamericano," because it's considered arrogant of citizens of the United States to claim the name "American," a name that applies to people from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.

But he wasn't prepared for the hotel telephone operator in Caracas, Venezuela, who told him Mexico, at least when it came to telephone calls, had merged with its neighbors on the northern continent. "I was having trouble getting a call through to Mexico, so I called the operator. He advised me that for Mexico, I now had to dial 1, as I would for the US," Howard says. "I told him as far as I knew it was still a very independent country code 52, but he insisted Mexico had now joined 'Norteamerica.' " Howard finally got his call through to country 52.

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