Today's Story Line

Vietnam: It's a country, not a war.

That's the mantra of President Clinton's trip to the Southeast Asian communist nation. The visit is a historic first and Clinton will try to balance the desire for diplomatic and economic rapprochement with those Americans who feel strongly about finding out what happened to US soldiers listed as missing in action (pages 1 and 8).

Global environmental issues also figure prominently in today's edition. The negotiations over how to cut carbon-dioxide emissions are heating up in The Hague. The US, Canada, Australia, and Japan all want to get credit for the forests and farmlands that soak up CO2. European countries and some environmental groups say that's cheating, and doesn't do anything about reducing emissions from cars and factories (this page). One alternative to fossil fuel is to produce energy via hydroelectric dams. But a worldwide review of mega-dam projects says the costs, in many cases, outweigh the benefits. The report suggests alternative projects and new criteria for evaluating dam proposals (page 7).

David Clark Scott World editor

HEY MISTER, WHERE's YOUR STAMP?: The Monitor's Peter Spotts regularly commutes to work in Boston via the train. But commuting from Rotterdam to the climate conference in The Hague has been a challenge. To save on the cost of hiring conductors, the Dutch have a self-serve system. Peter bought a round-trip pass, but he couldn't find a place on the yellow validation box where he could insert it. He shrugged and got on the train. Well, the Dutch conductors do spot checks. And, yes, they nabbed Peter. "If you don't have the right stamp, then you can kiss a wad of guilders goodbye," Peter says. But he pleaded ignorance and the conductor let him go. A few days later, he climbed aboard a trolley in The Hague while deep in conversation. "As soon as I saw the conductor coming, I realized I'd forgotten to validate my ticket. I started toward the box and heard 'Sir! Excuse me, sir!" says Pete. Busted.

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