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The trial of a Russian whistleblower and the deaths of UN aid workers and refugees in West Timor this past week underscore the challenge of reforming military institutions in fledgling democracies. The evidence is growing in Indonesia that the civilian government has neither the political inclination nor power to bring wayward soldiers and militia forces to heel. In Russia, the trial of Alexander Nikitin is seen as a test of whether the government will allow environmental watchdogs to bay when they spot military violations.

David Clark Scott World editor

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REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

*SHOPPING FOR AN INTERVIEW: Some days, you can mix journalism with other household duties. The Monitor's Nicole Gaouette was out interviewing green grocers about shmita when she spotted a fruit stand that "looked so much lusher than any place where I've been shopping," Nicole recounts. The owner told her that this was a relatively secular neighborhood, and he would not be observing shmita. "While we were talking, a customer, who resented the dictates of ultra-Orthodoxy, interjected that he was going to spend even more money with this grocer during shmita," says Nicole. In addition to the quotes, Nicole says, she got some "fabulous figs."

FOLLOW-UP ON A MONITOR STORY..

*WHERE THE ELEPHANTS ROAM:Eleven elephants airlifted from South Africa trumpeted a new beginning in Angola's Kissama Park yesterday, reports Reuters. The elephants' new life in the grassy river plains of Kissama, south of the Angolan capital, Luanda, began after a hard 30-hour, 2,185-mile journey over scorching bush tracks and a bone-shaking ride on a Soviet-era cargo plane, as reported on Sept. 8.

Operation Noah's Ark, led by the government-backed Kissama Foundation, aims to restore a wildlife park devastated by a 25-year-old civil war and poaching.

Ten more elephants are expected to arrive from South Africa tomorrow.

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