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Reporters on the Job

POP-STAR Politico: While reporting today's story about Iran's President Mohamad Khatami (page 1), Michael Theodoulou was struck by how enamored all kinds of Iranians were with the cleric. "I spoke with one young professional couple in Tehran who didn't think Khatami would make much political headway. Yet, they loved him. The guy had a photo of Khatami on his desk next to his computer in the living room," says Mike.

"Khatami's a philosopher with a common touch. Diplomats describe his speeches as 'logo therapy,' meaning his words have a soothing effect. Charisma is an overused word. But in this case, it's genuinely appropriate."

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LIMITED EDITION: When the story of an unusually frank official report about the state of unrest in China first broke (this page), the Monitor's Robert Marquand, and his Mandarin-speaking assistant, tried to get a copy of the publication. They called about 20 different locations. No one had a copy. Finally, they hit pay dirt.

Guided by cellphone, Bob's assistant made her way through some back alleys in Beijing and up six flights of stairs to a tiny book shop. "She felt like she was playing a part in a spy novel," says Bob. "The clerk sold her two copies but told her they were 'sample copies,' not 'approved' versions. He was very nervous." Later, as Bob called various Beijing-based diplomats and scholars for comment, they expressed surprise that the Monitor had scored a copy.

What did Bob do with his extra copy? "I gave it to a scholar to translate key sections. I offered to pay him, but he wanted the report instead."

- David Clark Scott

World Editor

CULTURAL SNAPSHOT..

LABOUR MILESTONE: At press time yesterday, British voters were picking their new government in an election expected to give Prime Minister Tony Blair a landslide victory. If Mr. Blair wins, he would arguably become the most successful leader in his party's 100-year history. No Labour leader has won back-to-back terms as premier.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor