Reporters on the Job

Madonna Who? With parents who run a walkers' club and a 96-year-old grandmother who until recently enjoyed regular 100-mile hiking holidays, reporter Mark Rice-Oxley is no stranger to the rambling fraternity in Britain. So the latest British efforts to uphold the right to roam (page 1) brought back childhood memories of forbidden footpaths and unwitting trespassing.

But few ramblers, Mark says, are out there to deliberately pry on the rich and famous. "The odd thing about their run-in (or walk-in) with Madonna is that these are people with little interest in the Material Girl. The only Madonna tracks they are familiar with are the ones that pass through her sizable estate. Ramblers tend to be interested in the natural world, not the synthetic realm of the megastar."

Dodging Smoke: When reporter Sonia Krishnan first arrived in Japan two years ago, she was intrigued by the cultural tolerance for cigarette use. "Attitudes in San Francisco and Tokyo couldn't be more different. As a nonsmoker, I get part of my daily exercise here trying to dodge clouds of tobacco smoke as I walk along the jam-packed streets of Tokyo. Hospitals even have indoor areas for people to light up," she says. "Until recently, it seemed like a throwback to the US in the 1960s.

"Then I started to notice small changes that signaled an awareness of tobacco's health risks (page 7). You can see train platforms and sidewalks - the places where people spend most of their time here - with nonsmoking signs now. Some cities around Japan are starting to fine people for smoking outside. A lot of people still smoke in front of the warnings, so it's going to take awhile before the mind-set shifts, but the antismoking movement is definitely under way."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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