Today's Story Line

It took the sinking of an Oscar-II class submarine and the loss of 118 lives. But the Russian military is starting to officially embrace a quality that, in the past, it has not considered standard issue: compassion. Public pressure is resulting in a level of financial compensation and consideration not normally seen by families of missing or dead Russian servicemen (page 1).

David Clark Scott World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

NO NIGHTLIFE HERE: The only way to reach Putumayo in southern Colombia is by air, since the country's guerrillas have ground transportation at a standstill. The Monitor's Howard LaFranchi says flying into the region's largest city, Puerto Asis - about 60,000 population - is like reaching a place closed down for a national holiday. Except no one's enjoying a holiday. "From the plane you see lots of roads trailing out from the town, but not a car, bus or truck on any of them." Howard says the town's nightlife - once booming from all the money generated by the local coca industry - has dried up, too. He ventured out with some colleagues one evening to see how the discos and cantinas were surviving in this town without electricity. "We found that they pretty much weren't," Howard says. "The generators they're using to power the lights and stereos were so noisy that they drowned out the music. Aside from a brave couple or two, the dance floors were deserted."

REVEALING NAMES: Two years ago, when reporter Kate Dunn was last in Zimbabwe, public support for President Robert Mugabe was waning. "At that time, the people I spoke to said that it was time for Mugabe to leave office, but they were very respectful," says Kate. But now she hears little or no respect. "They are calling him names such as "Bobodan," playing off of the first name of the fallen leader of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic." The other name Kate often hears is a phrase in the Shona language, which roughly translates to "Grandpa who won't leave."

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