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Computer whizzes who decided to use only two digits for years are finding gainful employment worldwide in fixing this digital mess before Jan. 1. Our correspondents explain how various countries are tackling (or not) this overhyped cyber-scare known as Y2K (year 2000) one byte at a time. Any relief could be short-lived, however, because even some new software has a leap-year bug - no date for Feb. 29, 2000.

South African leader Nelson Mandela made a bold decision before 1994 not to force whites to hand over their businesses or positions. But now the highly visible national sports teams face calls to reduce the number of white players.

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To keep a grip on power, leaders of both Iraq and Serbia are trying to find cracks of disagreement among the international community over how to contain them. At the United Nations, Iraq is finding friendlier voices to ease its isolation.

- Clayton Jones World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB SOUTH AFRICA'S WILDERNESS: Contributor Kate Dunn, based in Cape Town, recently toured a gorgeous stretch of forests, beaches, lagoons, rivers, and mountains known as The Garden Route, in the Eastern Cape. On New Year's Day she visited Wilderness, the hometown of South Africa's former apartheid leader, P.W. Botha. Local blacks left their slums that day to take over Wilderness beach. Whether they did so just to tick off Mr. Botha, she didn't know, but they were nowhere to be seen on other beaches, which remained quite white. Whatever the reason, they had a grand beach party.

PRESS CLIPS WORLD'S MOST POPULAR SPORT: The leaders of South Africa and Britain, after meeting in a recent summit, jousted with each other over their countries' bids to host the 2006 soccer World Cup. Reporters asked President Nelson Mandela if he had persuaded Prime Minister Tony Blair to drop Britain's bid. Mr. Mandela replied that he had forgotten, then asked Mr. Blair: "Will you be generous enough to do this?" Blair responded with a grin: "Friendly rivalry is always a good thing."

TENNIS, ANYONE? Swarthmore College student Jon Temin wrote in The Boston Globe about spending time in South Africa, where he taught tennis to blacks from the shantytowns. Being white, he felt tension at first, and encountered pessimism about race relations. But when "they became more and more open with me, occasionally discussing their lives and inquiring about mine," he came away an optimist about South Africa.

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