Reporters on the Job

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    'Feliz Navidad': A woman with an ornate headdress participated in the annual Christmas parade in Panama City, Panama, on Dec. 14, 2008.
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Waste Not: Kamikatsu, Japan, has a palpable energy that seems to stem from the town's drive to reinvent itself as a model of greener living, says staff writer Amelia Newcomb (see story).

It's a small place – just 2,000 people – that's struggled over the years with a declining and aging population, and limited job prospects. "But people are galvanized by the attention their goal of no waste by 2020 has garnered," Amelia says. "They get visitors from across the globe, and that's built a sense of pride."

Amelia says the town seems to have turned a small corner in its struggles. "You get the feeling that they have seen a future that includes them," she says. "And they have something else going for them: a really good spirit.

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People were very friendly, Amelia says. "We drove by a group of older citizens who were planting flowers by the roadside in preparation for hosting a "most beautiful villages in Japan" meeting.

"They recognized us from the day before and stopped what they were doing and smiled and waved. We felt incredibly welcome," she says.

Cold War Redux? Correspondent Shahan Mufti reported from Islamabad, Pakistan, for today's story on tensions over the Mumbai attacks.

Talk of a potential war with India is difficult to avoid in Pakistan.

"I turned on the TV this weekend to find an image of a nuclear mushroom cloud over what looked like a major city," Shahan says. It wasn't news, but a popular TV show.

The host continued with a prayer that India and Pakistan do not fall into war again, and explained with the help of full-screen computer-generated graphics what the human cost of a nuclear war would be.

His estimate: some 3 million casualties.

"I never lived through the cold war in the sense of having to duck under classroom tables for drills, but this is probably the closest I have come to that," Shahan says.

– Sarah McCann

Monitor correspondent

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