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The International Monetary Fund plans to sell gold to raise aid money for needy nations. Unfortunately, many of those nations are gold producers. Rather than helping them, the pending sale is pushing gold prices down and costing jobs from South Africa to Papua New Guinea.

The relative peace in Kashmir may only be a pause in the half-century old conflict. Why Pakistan wants international mediation but India doesn't.

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Sir Lancelot (Armstrong), an American, rides to the rescue of the reputation of the Tour de France.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria, as Europe's cultural capital? Well, for a month it was supposed to be. But the Kosovo conflict is scaring off many tourists.

- David Clark Scott, World editor


*A FIVE-SECOND LOOK AT 'E.T.': When Lance Armstrong first took the lead in the Tour de France, the French press dubbed him "l'extraterrestre" - E.T. - for his remarkable strength and unemotional personality. But at least in Langeac, the small town in Auvergne where the Monitor's Peter Ford watched him whiz by in a blur of colored jerseys, he has a sympathetic following. "When they heard that I worked for an American paper, my fellow spectators saw nothing odd in the fact that I had traveled 400 miles for a five-second glimpse of the American rider."

*NICARAGUAN GUILT-TRIP: After spending the morning talking with Nicaraguan farmers about efforts to prevent environmental degradation, the Monitor's Howard LaFranchi and photographer Bob Harbison stopped for lunch. The carne asada - steak - was recommended. The meat was exceptionally tasty. Yes, the Nicaraguan expert with them explained with some embarrassment: The beef comes from cows that graze on nearby deforested land. "It was good," Howard recalls. "But we couldn't really enjoy it knowing that."


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*ALL QUIET ON THIS FRONT: The Independence Evening Post in Taipei reports that Chinese warplanes have approached the Taiwan Strait 100 times this month, up from 20 times in June. But Taiwan officials say they have detected no military activity on the mainland that would be cause for concern.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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