Today's Story Line

You might call it Know-Your-Economic-Acronyms week. In Prague, the members of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank are meeting and making it easier for HIPCs (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) to get debt relief (page 1). Many of these are LDCs (Lesser Developed Countries) in Africa, which spend more paying off their international loans than on health or education.

In Caracas, Venezuela, the leaders of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) are gathering for only the second time in four decades to discuss how to keep oil prices from rising and falling so PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) (this page).

David Clark Scott World editor


KHAT EXPRESS: For today's story about a famine averted, reporter Mike Crawley traveled to Ethiopia on a flight chartered by the World Food Program. But the pilot had other plans; he made an unscheduled stop. "The pilot told us it was for refueling, but while standing on the tarmac, we noticed them loading something on the plane other than fuel - bags of khat, an addictive stimulant leaf that Somali men often chew. When the WFP staff saw this, they demanded the bags be removed. The pilot complied, but reluctantly, claiming that the local authorities wouldn't be happy." After arriving in Gode, the plane took off again. When it returned late in the afternoon, Mike saw about a dozen 100-pound bags of khat being unloaded.

OPEC ROCKS: The Monitor's Howard LaFranchi reports that each OPEC leader attending the summit in Venezuela will receive a CD with a specially composed anthem, which begins: "OPEC united is victory, OPEC united is progress, progress and well-being for all mankind." It's not quite as catchy as Sister Sledge's "We Are Family," but it's a start.

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