Today's Story Line

If it worked for NATO in Yugoslavia.... That's the logic and public line Russian leaders are using to justify daily bombing raids on Chechnya. Russia has massed 30 percent of its European forces in the North Caucasus (page 1). Quote of note: "Russia is absolutely not ready for any big military actions in Chechnya. The present campaign is all bluff." - a Russian military analyst.

Remember Aum Supreme Truth? Several members of the religious group were convicted of a 1995 nerve gas attack in a Tokyo subway. The group continues in Japan but finds that its Japanese neighbors are, well, not so neighborly (this page). Quote of note: "Local feelings are more important than the constitution." - the mayor of Kitamimaki.

The Hindu elephant idol, Ganesh, has traditionally been a god worshiped in private homes. Ganesh is the son of the Hindu god, Shiva, and is usually a small icon. So its emergence as a giant symbol, used in parades by Hindu political activists, strikes some Indians as troubling (page 1).

The peace agreement in central Africa is holding - barely. Rwanda and Uganda, two allies fighting against President Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo, may be preparing to battle each other (page 6).

- David Clark Scott, World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *A HOSTILE PRESS: Emerging from the Aum Supreme Truth compound after an interview, the Monitor's Nicole Gaouette briefly experienced the anger of local residents. Three neighborhood men glowered at her, assuming she was a sect member. She crossed the street to talk to them. The hostility didn't melt until Nicole revealed her profession and reason for being there. One of the three men was a journalist from one of Japan's largest papers, who had covered Aum for years. "It was astounding," says Nicole, "that he had never interviewed a single Aum member. Aside from the journalistic questions that raises, it crystallized for me the Japanese attitude toward this group."

*TINKER, TAYLOR, DRIVER, SPY: Normally Lara Santoro hires a car and driver when working in Kisingani, Congo (formerly Zaire). But she arrived just after the Rwandan and Ugandan armies had fought each other, and the city was deserted. For security reasons, the only place Lara felt she could stay was in a hotel occupied by the Rwanda military. "I needed a car to get around. A military officer said, 'No problem.' " But after a couple of days, Lara discovered, through another source, that her civilian driver was a military spy. "He was reporting my movements and the names of the people I had gone to see." She confronted him and he didn't deny his role. Lara decided that the driver's "help" wasn't needed any more.

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