Today's Story Line

In today's news mix, you won't just find the normal on-the-ground reporting. We've also included reports from the skies above and the earth below.

Asian airlines have been stung by recent crashes. As a result, they're are examining procedures, retraining pilots, and taking a closer look at any cultural tendencies - such as not questioning your captain - that may undermine air safety.

A similar search for ways to improve railroad safety is going on in India.

Our down-under report (we're not talking Australia) comes from a bizarre subculture that recites poems, parties, and plays in limestone caves near Moscow.

- David Clark Scott, World editor


*US EXPORT CONCERNS? While researching the Arab satellite news channel Al Jazeera, reporter Ned Parker forced himself to explore what his 20-inch TV screen had to offer. On Arab cable in Qatar, not only did he learn that sportscasters cry "Allah" when a soccer player scores a goal, but that Jerry Springer is a Persian Gulf personality. An Arab friend asked Ned if Springer's show reflected American reality, "Of course not ... you maggot." He then threw a chair at his buddy. "A little American humor," adds Ned. "No assault occurred."

*BURROWING FOR A STORY: The Monitor's Judith Matloff first learned of Russia's subterranean subculture when her office assistant was invited to a party below ground. She approached a group of Moscow moles who call themselves "Planet Underground." They wanted $3,000 for a tour of the rat-infested tunnels beneath the city. Later, she found Oleg Bondarenko, a speleologist (cave scientist) who scoffed at the urban underhanded offer. "I'll take you to the real thing," he said. No charge. The only condition: "You must promise not to reveal the location of the tunnel entrance."


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