Reporters on the Job

FORMIDABLE INTRODUCTION: The Monitor's Danna Harman hadn't planned to go on the United Nations Security Council trip through central Africa. But she bumped into the French ambassador in the lobby of the InterContinental Hotel in Kinshasa. "He said my last story on the UN peacekeepers taking up positions in the Democratic Republic of Congo was 'formidable' and had recommended it to his wife." Then, he invited Danna along on the eight-nation whirlwind effort to jump-start the peace process (this page). No other English-language journalists went on the trip. "I was impressed by their sincerity and willingness to throw themselves into it," she says, adding: "This was no sightseeing trip. They were working. In two countries, they never got beyond the hotel lobby."

THE APPEARANCE OF WAR: During the collapse of the Versailles wedding hall in Jerusalem, the Monitor's Cameron Barr was in a nearby movie theater. When he and his party emerged, the roads were thick with ambulances and police were directing traffic at nearby intersections. "We saw about 16 ambulances in the first few minutes - we knew something really bad had happened," he says. A call to Boston gave him a sketch of the incident. "We were shocked, but in a weird way we were also relieved: Given the number of Israeli ambulances on the roads and our location in West Jerusalem, our first thought was that a Palestinian attack had killed many Israelis. That would probably have led to another escalation of the conflict. At least it wasn't that."

CULTURAL SNAPSHOT..

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NOW THAT'S A TROPHY: Japan's popular new prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, broke with tradition and added to his political stature Sunday by adding his own impromptu remarks to the formal phrases used when presenting the winner's trophy after the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament. The winner, Takanohan, was injured but competed anyway, reported Reuters. Mr. Koizumi read out the required words of praise, hesitated, and shouted: "You stuck it out despite the pain. I was thrilled. Congratulations!" His spontaneous exclamation, in a sporting arena steeped in tradition, thrilled the crowd.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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