• PICTURE THIS: "Charm offensive" might not be the right way to describe the growing openness that correspondent Scott Peterson found in Tehran, when he interviewed the ayatollah who leads Iraq's main Shiite Muslim opposition group (this page). Rebel groups of all types like to engage in self-promotion, and often videotape or record interviews made by foreign correspondents with their leaders. So it was no surprise that, besides a tape recorder, Ayatollah al-Hakkim's office had a photographer there.
Scott assumed the pictures would be used on the group's website or in its newsletters. But at the end of his interview with the cleric, "the beaming photographer presented me with a letter-size digital photograph of me interviewing his hero," Scott says. "It must have been hot off the printer - and shows how much more sophisticated Iraqi opposition in Iran has become."
• RESCUED IN JAPAN: As the Monitor's Robert Marquand left the Kumamoto country music festival (page 7), he became absorbed in conversation with his interpreter, and a cowboy named Tomoi. "We got on the wrong train. Two stops later, we got off the train at this vacant little station in the middle of nowhere with one streetlight and a broken bench. The driver told us it would be another half hour before the next train," says Bob.
But while they were bemoaning their fate, "this angelic 14-year-old girl, who also had gotten off at the same stop, walked across the track to her dad and told him, 'Those people are in trouble.' The dad waved us over, put us in his car, and drove 50 minutes to our hotel.
"In the meantime, we had the most wonderful discussion about everything from investment in the south of Japan to the history of Stonehenge. One moment, our spirits hit bottom, and suddenly we turned around and this young lady and father were beckoning us."
David Clark Scott
• NO MISS WORLD BOYCOTT: Beauty queens from more than 80 countries arrived late Monday in Nigeria to begin the month-long Miss World 2002 contest. As reported in the Sept. 25 issue, some contestants had threatened to withdraw, citing an Islamic court's death sentence, by stoning, on a young Nigerian woman.