Today's Story Line

Glitzy casinos, a la Las Vegas, have arrived in post-apartheid South Africa. Now, the government is beginning to rethink their economic usefulness (page 1).

Quote of note: "[Poor people] don't have to gamble very much before they are damaging their family." - Peter Collins.

Faye Bowers Deputy world editor


THE KING AND ILENE: To report the flooding story today, the Monitor's Ilene Prusher traveled for 1-1/2 hours by four-wheel drive, then an hour up the Mekong River in a speedboat (see story). "It was newer, faster, and shinier than boats the people who live there use," Ilene says. "And the pilot gives you life jackets."

The boat also had a siren - the kind normally employed in emergencies, Ilene adds. "But the pilot used it to get people on the river out of his way - to sort of make like the king was coming through town," Ilene says. And when they approached pedestrian bridges, Ilene says you could tell how high the water was - the six passengers in the boat had to duck each time they went under a bridge.

EL PRESIDENTE TO PRESIDENT-ELECT: Mexico's president-elect, Vicente Fox, who will be inaugurated Friday (see story), thought he would have plenty of time following the US election to meet "president elect to president elect." The Monitor's Howard LaFranchi says that in a meeting with foreign journalists last week, Fox called the US presidential standoff "unfortunate." "Maybe he decided that sounded a bit harsh," Howard says. "So he amended his own comments to add: 'It's unfortunate because I thought there would be time to meet before either of us took office.' " But Howard says Fox, who went to Washington as president-elect to meet with Clinton, must find rather savory the prospect of now meeting the US president-elect from the presidential seat.

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