• Covering Friday Prayers: Correspondent Sam Dagher didn't go to the mosque in Sadr City to get the quotes from the Friday sermon in today's story (see story). Instead, his Iraqi colleague did the reporting.
For some months now, there's been a curfew from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays. The intent is to reduce the number of bombings targeting people attending Friday prayers at the mosques. "The curfew does work," says Sam. "Although, the mosques now tend to get hit on other days of the week."
Sam met with the British security advisers under contract to the Monitor to discuss how he might attend the event. "I thought I could leave early, before the curfew, and come back after," says Sam. But the advisers vetoed it as too risky for a foreigner. So his Iraqi Muslim colleague offered to go.
David Clark Scott
• Fewer Homeless in Japan: The number of homeless people in Japan has fallen because of an upturn in the world's second-largest economy, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Saturday.
Citing a national survey conducted by the Health Ministry in January, the newspaper said Japan had about 18,600 homeless people, down 26 percent from four years ago.
About 2 in 5 homeless people, many of whom lived in makeshift huts in parks and along riverbanks, say they had been full-time employees of companies in Japan shortly before becoming homeless.