Today's Story Line

Special defense forces have been deployed to cordon off the most popular diving resorts because of terrorist attacks in Malaysia (page 7). But sealing porous borders is proving difficult.

The same is true in the Mideast. A bomb attack on a school bus carrying Israeli settlers in the mainly Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip is bound to escalate the two-month-old battles (page 1).

Faye Bowers Deputy world editor


Party Lines: The Monitor's Howard LaFranchi says the idiosyncrasies of his region got the better of a telephone conversation he had Sunday with contributor Rachel Hays in Lima. "We were trying to make some sense of [Peruvian President Alberto] Fujimori's decision to resign when a shrill whistle on her end made talking almost impossible. When I asked, Rachel said, 'Oh, that's the ice cream man on the street. But what's that ringing on your end?' " Howard realized it was the garbage man, clanging a large bell to signal he was ready to collect. "The phone line was also carrying a Peruvian soccer game, which was fairly unobtrusive until the announcer hollered 'Gooooooooal!' "

Malaysian musical chairs: Simon Ingram began to realize just how unprepared the Malaysian armed forces were for their new role on the Sabah coast during a visit to the Army camp in the jungle just outside Semporna. An infantry battalion from the neighboring state of Sarawak had moved into this long-disused facility two weeks earlier. "But when we arrived," Simon says, "my initial impression was that the troops were moving out."

Piles of chairs and tables were being loaded onto a green military truck. And in the officers' mess hall, a private was unhooking and folding a set of chintzy green curtains. The colonel explained that they had to spruce the place up for a visit from the defense minister. He said they had to borrow the furniture from a local hotel, but that they had to return it.

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