Today's Story Line

Summer in the Panjshir Valley means more fighting. Afghanistan's Taliban are testing the defenses of Masood's mujahideen. How much support are their respective backers, Pakistan and Russia, giving to this civil war?

Another Islamic jihad is apparently developing in Indonesia. In a nation which is 90 percent Muslim, many Muslims still feel they are second-class citizens. Quote of note: "We're allowing the national discussion to be driven by radicals." - Jakarta newspaper editor.

It costs twice as much to make a local call in Japan than in other industrial nations. The US is trying to pry open access to Japan's telephone industry by arguing that Japan's high rates are stunting its e-commerce development.

David Clark Scott World editor


TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER: During the ride into Afghanistan, reporter Lucian Kim was pleased to see the commander of the mujahideen, Ahmed Shah Masood, on board the aircraft. Lucian tried to introduce himself, but conversation was impossible over the din of the Russian-made helicopter. Besides, Commander Masood was busy praying. Upon landing, he put in his official request for an interview. But Lucian heard nothing. A week later, Lucian glimpsed the commander in the shadows of the house (no electricity) where Lucian was staying. But the commander flitted upstairs, followed by his whole general staff - each member politely shook Lucian's hand as they passed. Only on his last day in the country, did Lucian learn that an elaborate lunch with Masood had been mysteriously arranged. "It was a feast, really. We had fried fish from the Panjshir River, stewed eggplant, and some meat," says Lucian. After their meal at Masood's brother-in-law's house, Lucian got his interview.

TURNED AROUND IN TOKYO: The Monitor's Ilene Prusher only recently arrived in Tokyo, and has discovered that most homes and businesses in this city of 28 million people are located on streets that don't have names. Instead, an office or home is a number in a quadrant in a district in a ward. For example, the Monitor's bureau address is 5-51-2-202. This seems to confuse the Japanese, too, so people fax maps to one another. For today's story, Ilene asked an executive of a company to fax her a map. But the fax was out of order, so he sent an e-mail. It came through as gobbledygook because her computer isn't equipped to read Japanese script. When Ilene called back the following day to try to get the executive to fax a map again, she realized that the company was located across the street from the Monitor office.

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