PLANTING SEASON: On a story like today's piece about political turmoil in Ukraine (this page), editors and writers often must decide, 'what's next?' Will the popular unrest continue and how closely should we follow it? Based on more than a decade of experience in the region, Fred Weir expects a brief, spring-induced political lull. "International Workers Day, or May Day (Tuesday), was big during the Soviet era, and it's still a huge holiday here. Most people won't return to work until Thursday, and some won't come back until after May 9, which is Victory Day, marking the end of World War II," says Fred. And he notes that there's a practical reason for all this time away from the job. "Most ordinary people rely on their gardens for food. This is the start of the traditional planting season," he says. What will Fred by planting on May Day? "I'll be planting myself - in a chair," he laughs.
MUCH ADO ABOUT the 'DO': In the Monitor's Ilene Prusher's reporting on Japanese politics (page 7), she's noticed how the local media have treated female politicians as semi-celebrities. The focus is on their style as much as anything else. But it appears that men are getting equal treatment. For example, there has been considerable coverage about the hairstyles of each of the top two Liberal Democratic Party candidates for prime minister. Ryutaro Hashimoto uses hair pomade - a grease that has been popular with politicians here for decades. New Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi gets his wavy rock-star look by getting a perm. His barber, it is widely reported, fashioned his do for him 20 years ago, to make him look like Koizumi's favorite rock star from a now defunct band, "X Japan." While the 30-somethings are particularly drawn to Koizumi's hair style, older Japanese say it makes him look reckless and pretentious, as though he were trying to pass as a much younger man. Ilene says: "I overheard one older lady say: 'I don't like that. On a younger man, maybe, but a man over 30 shouldn't be perming his hair to try to look like one of the kids.' "
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