Today's Story Line:

The funeral of Syria's President Hafez al-Assad today marks the political debut of his son, Bashar.

One woman in Peru carries her cake pan into cyberspace.

One year ago yesterday, NATO and Russian troops entered Kosovo to end a purge of ethnic Albanians. A check on progress.

As North and South Korean leaders meet today, we take a broader look at the issues and stakes.

- Faye Bowers Deputy world editor


*POLITICS OF MOURNING: Middle East correspondent Scott Peterson looks out on some of the tallest buildings in Damascus from his 10th-floor hotel room. Most structures are draped with huge posters of President Hafez al-Assad, with strips of black cloth hanging to the streets.

As he was writing today's story, he heard huge crowds outside. People in vans and buses were waving black flags and holding up pictures of Mr. Assad. But what struck Scott most were their chants, which were more like political slogans. It was much different, for example, than during the funeral for King Hussein of Jordan in 1999. People were driving around all night then, too. But their mourning was more an unstructured wailing.

*EXCUSES FOR NOT FILING! Balkans correspondent Dick Mertens lost touch with us for a few days before filing today's story, but he had a pretty good excuse: "I'm back in Kosovo after about a week away - I was married last week."

For a honeymoon, Dick says, "We went to Lake Ohrid, in southern Macedonia for a long weekend.... Mentioning it casually is just my way of resisting the fact that my life will change drastically."

The new Mrs. Mertens is a Macedonian nurse: "Great at displays of compassion but not much interested in the news." Congratulations to you both!


Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten, winner of the 2000 French Open tennis tournament, poses with his trophy in Paris yesterday. 'Guga,' as reported in the May 26 issue of the Monitor, will give his silver bowl to his disabled brother.

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