Today's Story Line:

There is only one road out of Chechnya, and it is now clogged with an estimated 10,000 civilians fleeing the fighting. But Russian soldiers won't let them pass. And some refugees say the Russians are using civilians as human shields.

China's legal reforms are supposed to restore confidence in the judicial system. Some citizens have benefited. But a lawyer who defended political dissidents is now being tried.

If you go shopping in Moscow, don't be surprised if you hear staccato clicks. It's probably someone checking the produce with a personal Geiger counter.

- David Clark Scott World editor


*'DISSED' IN CHILE: Santiago, Chile, displays elements of the same nomadic youth culture one finds in Rio, Bogot, or Mexico City. While waiting to meet a source at a specified corner in Santiago's trendy Bellavista neighborhood, the Monitor's Howard LaFranchi struck up a conversation with one of the vendors of incense, old books, Che Guevara pins, and assorted artisanry. A thin, young man wearing sandals and an Indian-print sarong was "a '90s version of the '60s hippy, very global," says Howard. A Colombian whose family mostly lives in the US, the young man travels around South America writing in a journal and selling handcrafted wall hangings based on a Sioux Indian design. "The guy was shocked when I said I'd never seen this particular Sioux design, believed to encourage good dreams," Howard says. "He said that as an American I should know my native cultures better."


*PEACE THROUGH "SESAME STREET"? Israeli and Palestinian misunderstandings not only run deep, they start young. A survey of four- and five-year-old children - before they watched the bilingual Israeli-Palestinian co-production of "Sesame Street" - showed only 21 percent of them chose positive adjectives to describe a drawing of a man. Jewish children were told he was an Arab, while Arab children were told he was a Jew. "An Arab is the one who wants to hurt Jews in the strongest way," replied one Jewish child when asked about the picture. An Arab youngster said: "The Jew is the one shooting the children and throwing rocks."

University of Maryland researcher Nathan Fox says: "We were astounded at the degree of negative stereotyping we found among children this young." But after watching "Sesame Street" (see the March 18, 1997 Monitor) for four months, 600 local children answered with responses that were twice as positive: 42 percent describe Arabs and Jews favorably.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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