A MEN-ONLY RING: When the Monitor's Ilene Prusher attended a sumo wrestling event for today's story (page 7), there was nothing about the gender of the audience to indicate that sumo wrestling is one of Japan's last male bastions. She says there were lots of families - children and women among the fans. "Though, waiting for that ponytail to disappear was like watching grass grow. I got a glimpse into the great sense of dignity bestowed on the athlete, and the great sense of pride enjoyed by the men who get to take part in that once-in-a-lifetime trim."
Women still are not allowed in the sacrosanct ring, Ilene notes, a matter Japan's first female governor, Osaka's Fusae Ota, has tried to challenge. "During the past two years, she has tried to follow in the footsteps of some of her male political predecessors and participate in the sumo award ceremonies - but to no avail."
BRIBES OR TIPS? "Corruption in Kenya doesn't knock you over the head, unlike in some places in Africa," says the Monitor's Danna Harman. "It sneaks up on you." She encountered it most recently when she tried to get a Kenyan driver's license - her international license isn't accepted. "I went five or six times, and each time I didn't have the proper paperwork or stamp in my passport, or something," she says. Finally, a Kenyan friend offered to go for her. He came back yesterday and told her she needed to pay a bribe. "It wasn't much, just $4, but it's annoying."
On one hand, Danna understands that civil servants are paid meager salaries, so the bribe might be seen as a tip to a waiter. But she also sees the practice among prominent businessmen - both Kenyans and foreigners - whom she considers friends. "They pay the tax commissioner a small bribe, so that they don't have to pay taxes. It's upsetting, because bribery is built in to every level of the system."
- David Clark Scott
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