BOSTON — Sometimes, minor news stories lurk in the background for weeks before they jump onto page 1.
Take the banana trade. America has had a long beef with Europe's restrictions on banana imports. Now it's reached a crisis, alongside a few other transatlantic disputes. Strategic ties between the allies are strained, highlighting some basic differences in trade and diplomacy.
Then there were reports of weird winter weather in Europe with near-record snowfall. Suddenly, a string of avalanches killed dozens, forcing a rethink of ways to "contain" the snow in the steep Alps.
Another slow-burn story has been Rwanda's war against Hutu guerrillas in Congo. The conflict suddenly took on global dimensions when eight foreign tourists were killed by the guerrillas.
- Clayton Jones World editor
REPORTERS ON THE JOB *YOU CAN'T MISS IT: The camel library story on page 12 required Lara Santoro and her photographer, Cedric Galbe, to get in touch with an old Somali nomad and walk with him to a river where they could find, and pay homage to, the representatives of the big nomadic families that graze their cattle (mostly camels) in the savanna. It was mainly a photographic expedition because Cedric decided he needed pictures of large herds of camels. The Somali elder, a man called Dubow Subane, told them the river was "just there" and so they set out without water or sunblock. Three hours later they were still walking, or rather stumbling, often ankle deep in sand, in 100 degree heat. About halfway, Lara asked Dubow where exactly "just there" was. To everyone's horror, he pointed to a couple tall trees barely visible in the distance. "There," he said. Of course, to him it was just there. Speeding ahead in his flip-flops, Dubow never displayed the slightest fatigue and looked on the two with a mix of pity and contempt. When they finally made it back, Cedric and Lara put away a bottle of water and six sodas each. Dubow didn't even have a drink.
BY THE NUMBERS *WEALTH GAP: The EU-US banana trade dispute originates from Europe's concern for its former colonies, which rely heavily on banana exports. But even within the European Union, the disparity of wealth is quite large. Central London has more than double the average EU income, edging out two German regions, Hamburg and Darmstadt, for the top honors, according to Eurostat. Ipeiros, Greece, is the lowest with 43 percent. Second-lowest is the Portuguese Azores. The countries with the most pronounced differences are Germany and UK. Sweden shows the best balanced picture of incomes in the EU.
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