Today's Story Line:

Two stories illustrate ways in which barriers between societies can dissolve. In Ireland, softwaremakers are discovering that it's good business to modify the language, feel, and even the "facts," to fit local cultures (see story). In Australia, a military veteran who once championed anti-Asian sentiment is now a leading example of reconciliation (see story).

- David Clark Scott World editor


GETTING INSIDE: Reporter Philip Smucker knew that he wanted to get into a Yemeni school that the FBI says may be an ideological training ground for terrorists. But he wasn't sure how. Then the owner of the hotel where Phil was staying took him to meet his brother, a doctor and respected Yemeni health official. Over dinner, the doctor offered to take Phil to the school. "The doctor told me that the school was known, even in Pakistan, where he had worked. He said, 'The school is ruining our country's reputation. It's not a terrorist school, and I'll take you there to show you.' " The next day, he took Phil to the school. "The students seemed enamored with the doctor. When they couldn't find the key to the locked sitting room, they got a crowbar and broke it down. We talked for a couple of hours," says Phil. But then a more senior school administrator arrived. "He was distressed by the presence of an American journalist. We were told to go."


SHIVERING IN RUSSIA: Russian President Vladimir Putin fired Energy Minister Alexander Gavrin on Monday in response to a fuel crisis in Far Eastern regions that has left thousands of people freezing (see Jan. 30 Monitor). The sacking, reports Reuters, could signal a major reshuffle in the electricity monopoly, headed by Anatoly Chubais, an economist, who created Russia's post-Soviet privatization program.


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