ALPINE NEWCOMER: Several Monitor stories in recent years have discussed neutral Switzerland's gradual thaw from political aloofness. This week, following a decision by Swiss voters in March, the Alpine nation will break its traditional reserve by joining the United Nations. Switzerland's national identity as a self-reliant loner, safeguarded by its neutrality from the world's troubles, was shattered by several traumatic events in recent years, including its airline's financial crisis, allegations that Swiss banks hoarded Holocaust victims' wealth after World War II, and the deaths of 36 Swiss citizens in a 1997 terror attack in Luxor, Egypt.
AFTER THE FLOOD: In the Monitor's Aug. 30 issue, reporter Arie Farnam wrote from Prague about efforts to clean up and repair the damage from devastating floods last month. In the latest sign of recovery, the Prague Zoo opened over the past weekend. But there were many empty cages: Some animals could not be evacuated in time to escape the rushing waters; other animals survived but are still too stressed to be returned to their cages. Particularly missed was Kadir, a 35-year-old Indian elephant who had starred in many Czech films. His handlers were forced to put him down to avert certain death by drowning when he was trapped in his pen.