Today's Story Line:

Nations, like most people, don't respond well to criticism. In China, religious expression and political protest are often considered as threats to the ruling party. Official attitudes toward the Falun Gong are hardening (page 1). In North Korea, drawing attention to the poverty there will get foreign aid workers expelled (page 7). In Indonesia, human rights activists risk their lives in the pursuit of justice (this page).

David Clark Scott World editor


The heights of envy: The Monitor's Scott Peterson became an avid rock climber while stationed in Jordan. He honed his skills on the ocher pinnacles in the Wadi Rum Desert. As he reported the story about clearing ice from Moscow roofs, "I was desperately envious of these guys, as they slung themselves out with their climbing gear," he says. He volunteered to help. "They wouldn't let me do any more than stick my leg out onto the slick roof," says Scott with obvious disappointment. He was last seen scaling an old pipe in a back stairwell of his Moscow apartment building.

Nigerian Floggin: Zamfara authorities lashed a Muslim girl 100 times with a cane for having premarital sex, the Associated Press reported yesterday. The flogging of Bariya Ibrahim Magazu - who said she was pressured by her father to have sex with three men - was carried out Friday in the state of Zamfara. None of the men were punished. The flogging was scheduled for Jan. 27, the first anniversary of the imposition of Islamic law, or sharia, in Zamfara, but it was postponed last week. Explaining why they went ahead with the flogging, a local government spokesman said they wanted to bring an end to the global criticism that followed an Islamic court's guilty verdict.

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