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Today's Story Line:

iran is swinging back, pendulum-like, from its 20-year-old Islamic Revolution and warming up to the West. Its president visited Europe this week in a historic embrace (not clash) of civilizations. He called for a Muslim-Christian dialogue based on common values. Radical Muslims around the world, once inspired by the revolution, may take note.

China has decided, after initially challenging Hong Kong's courts on a decision over migrants, that there's not much profit by further upsetting this semiautonomous enclave of capitalists.

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Arab women may find hope that the Gulf state of Qatar has allowed women to both vote and run for office.

- Clayton Jones World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB * MISSILES FOR IRAN: Italian police had tight security in place to head off anti-Iranian protests during a speech by President Mohamad Khatami at the ancient and sacred building of Badia Flesolana near Florence. The Islamic cleric spoke of reconciling with Christians. But one protester, says contributor Sarah Happel, was able to fling a white paintball at a 17th-century fresco by Giovanni da San Giovanni. It landed squarely between the eyes of an image of St. Augustine.

* IN THE LINE OF FIRE: The palm trees and willows tumbling from the high walls of Qatari mansions piqued the interest of contributor Ned Parker. In America, he knew he could never hope to enter the home of a Trump or a du Pont - the closest he might come would be to visit Graceland. So, he thought just to see the interior of a Qatari estate would satisfy him. Last Sunday, the night before Qatar's first elections, his wish was granted. Sitting with a female candidate in her house, he gawked at the 20-foot-high ceilings, gold falcon miniatures, and leopard skin rugs. The reporter feared for his life only when a maid carried in an urn bubbling with smoke and told him to put it against his chest. When they explained it was only a burning wood fragrance meant to indicate hospitality, he courageously let them smother him with scents.

NEWS YOU CAN USE * A LITTER OF IDEAS: Shopkeepers on a fashionable street in Osaka have come up with a way to entice young shoppers not to litter, reports Japan's Asahi newspaper. The shopkeepers association is recycling piles of discarded paper and plastic bottles into new products and selling them. One product is a plastic bottle-holder that will enable a user to carry an empty drink bottle home for disposal instead of tossing it. Also for sale are colorful boards made from recycled paper.

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