Today's Story Line:

Is George W. Bush "our guy"?

In diplomacy, perceptions can be as important as reality. In Japan, the view is that the new American administration is more pro-Japan than pro-China. Asia is a region where the US position is highly nuanced on some very sensitive issues - such as Taiwan and North Korea. Any shift by the US will ripple through the region (this page).

Quote of note: "Perhaps Bush will be a little harsher toward China than Japan, but they will also expect Japan to do more."

- Masahi Nishihara, president of Japan's National Defense Academy.

- David Clark Scott World editor


KEEP MOVING: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf and a photographer were on their way to see a volunteer group that was pulling victims from a collapsed building in the old part of Bhuj, India. "Our self-appointed guide," says Scott, "offered this bit of advice as we were walking through a large concrete structure with visible cracks: 'When you see a large building like this, you should run past as fast as you can, because it could come down at any moment.' " At this point Muhammad, the guide, started running. Unfortunately, says Scott, nearly every building that's still standing in the old sector of Bhuj fits that description. "As a result, my photographer and I did a lot of running."

ANOTHER CONSTITUTIONAL CLASH: Today's story about revising Russia's Constitution reminded reporter Fred Weir of the assault by President Boris Yeltsin's forces on parliament in 1993. Fred was covering it for the Canadian press. He remembers a bullet whizzing by his head during two days of street battles. Already a veteran journalist in Russia, "I never thought I'd see civil war on the streets of Moscow," Fred says. He says that at its heart, the battle in 1993 was over rival draft constitutions. The lawmakers' version foresaw a British-style parliamentary system; Yeltsin advocated strong presidential rule. "You don't think about a constitution as being something that causes bloodshed, but at moments like this it's almost like an epiphany, you see what a constitution means," Fred adds.

LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS? For today's story about Chile, Santiago-based reporter Tim Vandenack had trouble getting to Augusto Pinochet's supporters. "Pinochet foes distribute their cellphone numbers and actually answer reporters' calls," says Tim. But phone messages to Pinochet attorneys go unanswered.He did reach the head of a pro-Pinochet group. "I don't think the Pinochetistas are unwilling to comment, just leery of what they perceive as bias against them in the media," says Tim.

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