Reporters on the Job

GUN HUNTING IN PAKISTAN: It's not hard to find a man carrying a gun in the tribal areas of the Khyber Pass, but finding the gun bazaar is another story. "Through the charming persuasion of my Pashtun-speaking interpreter, we convinced our government-assigned armed guard, Shahrukh, to take us where he buys his guns," says the Monitor's Scott Baldauf. A bone-jolting car ride across two streams and through narrow alleys ended at Pakistan's equivalent of Guns 'R' Us.

The Kalashnikov was the most ubiquitous. But for the right price, anything was possible, Scott was told. Land mines, grenade launchers, anti-aircraft guns, and even James Bond-style ballpoint pen guns, complete with a "Holiday Inn" logo. "Let me assure everyone, including airport officials, that we didn't see any of those and if we did, we wouldn't have been tempted in the slightest. Just intrigued," he says.

HIKING IN KOSOVO: For today's story about US efforts to stop gunrunning into Macedonia, Richard Mertens went out on patrol with US troops in Kosovo. "We hiked about two miles at a good pace," he says. "It wasn't easy for me, and I wasn't carrying 60 pounds of gear, including a flak jacket, ammunition, and a helmet," he says, describing the soldiers' load. The last journalist to visit the outpost, he was told, had to be airlifted out because he was too tired to hike back. What did Dick see? "Some distant shelling and bursts of machine gun fire about a half-mile away in Macedonia - otherwise, just birds singing."

POKEMON BANNED: Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority banned Pokemon games and cards, saying they promote Zionism and gambling. The Associated Press reports Saudi Arabia's Higher Committee for Scientific Research and Islamic Law issued the fatwa, or religious edict. It said the video game and cards have symbols, including "the Star of David ... as well as being the first symbol of the Freemasons." The game also has Christian crosses and symbols of Japan's Shintoism, which is based on the belief in more than one god, the edict said.


(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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