Today's Story Line:

Latin America is beginning to come to terms with dollar hegemony. If the arrival of McDonald's and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies weren't enough, now the American greenback is making inroads. On Jan. 1, El Salvador will become the latest laboratory for testing the pros and cons of dollarization (this page).

Quote of note: "This is Jose Manuel Arce [on the 1 colon note], our first president. Now they say our bills will have the faces of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Richard Nixon."

- A banana vendor in El Salvador

- David Clark Scott World editor


BY AIR OR BY LAND? Logistics for even short trips can be a challenge. For today's story, Lucian Kim needed to get from Riga, Latvia, to the Polish capital of Warsaw. He'd already set up several interviews for the next day, which meant he had to get there by morning. No problem, the two cities are less than 400 miles away from each other - about the distance between Boston and Washington. Except that direct flights run twice a week and arrive in the afternoon. There's the "night train" via Vilnius, Lithuania, that takes 22 hours. Would that be an average speed of 20 m.p.h.? Lucian opted for the $25 bus ride: The price was right and timing was perfect. OK, so the ride was a little rough. It left Riga at 5 p.m. and arrived at Warsaw's desolate East Station at 4:30, giving Lucian more than enough time to peruse the morning papers and prepare for his first interview.

TO LEASE OR BUY? Cameron Barr and Nicole Gaouette have been considering whether they should buy or lease a car in Jerusalem. The fire bombing of a Washington Post colleague's cars on Sunday certainly helped confirm their desire to lease, which offers better insurance coverage. The Post reported that the cars were parked outside its office. The attack comes at a time when pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups say that Western media coverage is slanted against them.

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