MILITANT SENSE OF HUMOR: For today's story about militant Islam in Indonesia (page 1), reporter Dan Murphy visited the Jakarta office of the Indonesian Mujahidin Group. He expected a serious, humorless atmosphere.
But while waiting outside for a security guard to sign him in, Dan noticed a picture of what looked like Osama bin Laden wedged underneath the glass on the guard's desk, with a caption. So Dan slowly edged around the desk, trying to confirm that it was a photo of the international fugitive. It was, but it wasn't. The nose and eyebrows were wrong. The beard was gone. Then he read the caption: "Osama Bean Laden." A picture of the English comedian Rowan Atkinson (aka Mr. Bean) was overlaid on bin Laden's face. "The guard saw me edging around the desk to get a surreptitious glimpse at his important papers, then laughed at my expression for five minutes," says Dan.
VOTER APATHY IN PAKISTAN: Reporter Rana Jawad has been covering elections in Pakistan since 1988. But today's referendum is completely different from any other vote he's covered (page 7). "The streets of Islamabad are plastered with giant posters of President Musharraf. There are colored lights on the trees and bushes. But there's no tension, no competition between parties." In interview after interview with Pakistanis, he heard comments such as "I have so much pending work with me and I will do that instead of wasting time at a polling station." Rana says even the referendum question is anticlimactic and seems designed to instill apathy. "The question is buried in the sixth line of the preamble."
David Clark Scott