Today's Story Line

Russia's FSB (the spy agency formerly known as the KGB) is flexing its muscles, emboldened by the leadership of President Vladimir Putin (a former KGB agent). That's what lies behind the spy trial of American businessman Edmond Pope, say many analysts. Mr. Pope argues that he was just getting information that was readily available from public sources. Spy or no, the US State Department warned Americans doing business in Russia to proceed with caution (page 1).

David Clark Scott World editor


SPIES, ER, HACKS LIKE YOU: Today's story about the businessman accused of being a spy, reminded the Monitor's Moscow correspondent, Scott Peterson, of a time he encountered a group of US spies in Africa. "It was the day after the US troops landed in Somalia in 1992. Half-a-dozen spooks posing as journalists jumped out of a US Sea-King helicopter, wearing dark sunglasses and identical Banana Republic photojournalist vests," says Scott. "When we asked them who they worked for, one blurted, 'the Embassy - State.' The AP bureau chief there from Nairobi filed a complaint because dressing them up as journalists added to the risks faced by real journalists."

HARASSMENT-FREE SEATING: Women-only carriages are to be introduced in Tokyo trains to address the growing problem of drunken men groping women commuters, reports Reuters. The service is to be provided on late-night trains over the holiday season, when trains are particularly crowded. As reported on June 22, "Ladies Only" buses were established in Bangkok, Thailand, for similar reasons. A Tokyo railway spokesman said it had received 351 harassment complaints in the year up to March 2000 - an increase of nearly 100 over the previous year.

VISITING PANDAS: China is loaning Tian Tian (r.) and Mei Xiang to the US National Zoo in Washington for 10 years. The two pandas are due to arrive today.

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