Reporters on the Job

PULSE OF KABUL: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf interviewed people in the Afghan capital of Kabul about the possible death of Ahmad Shah Masood, the guerrilla fighter opposing the Taliban (page 1). "What was striking was the level of sadness for Masood on the streets of Kabul and the level of distrust for the Taliban in their own capital city," he says. "When I visited the fruit market, I expected that no one would want to talk about Masood, but not only were they willing to talk but invited us in for tea. This is a dangerous thing in a city where Taliban religious police keep very close control on who sees whom.

GONE ELEPHANT HUNTING: Animals can't always be counted on to cooperate with journalists. Reporter Mike Crawley found this out when he went to an elephant sanctuary in Kenya for today's story (page 7). The sanctuary offers guaranteed sightings. "I saw lots of tracks, dung, and real devastation of the landscape. The tops of trees were chewed off and grass worn to nothing. But after nearly two hours of driving, the only animal I saw was something in the distance that might have been an elephant - or a rock shaped like one," says Mike. Just when he thought he might have to cash in on his guarantee, he drove around a corner. "I found myself within 40 feet of a lone bull elephant."

- David Clark Scott

World Editor


CENTENARIAN SURVEY: A record 15,475 Japanese are expected to reach the age of 100 by the end of this month, according to an annual government survey released yesterday.

The number of centenarians will increase by 2,439, or almost a fifth, from last year's previous record of 13,036, the Health and Welfare Ministry said. Women make up 83.6 percent of the total. The report comes out a few days before the country's Sept. 15 Respect for the Aged Day, when each centenarian is awarded a silver cup and a certificate signed by the prime minister.

Kamato Hongo, who will turn 114 on Sunday, will be the oldest living Japanese for the third straight year. Hongo lives with her 77-year-old daughter in Kagoshima, on the southern island of Kyushu. Her oldest daughter is 90.

Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world for both sexes, according to a recent Health and Welfare Ministry report.

The country's southernmost prefecture (state) of Okinawa placed first with 457 centenarians, or 34.67 for every 100,000 people. The equivalent figure for the United States is about 10 in 100,000 people.

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