Today's Story Line:
The 15 members of the European Union yesterday finished a historic summit on who gets to join their exclusive club. And they've begun to recalculate how to share power between big and small states. The marathon negotiations in Nice, France, bore a similarity to the gathering in Philadelphia in 1787 to frame the US Constitution (this page).
One EU wannabe, Ukraine, may find its membership hopes hinging on how it handles the investigation of a missing (and possibly murdered) journalist (page 1).
- David Clark Scott World editor
REPORTERS ON THE JOB
VISITING COCA FARMERS: The Monitor's Howard LaFranchi found that the roads in Colombia's Putumayo province were closed by a "strike" enforced by the leftist guerrillas. Local officials warned him against any forays, but Howard wanted to talk to farmers about the coca eradication program. He persuaded a cab driver to take him into the countryside. After many false starts, he found a farmer willing to talk. "As we talked, somehow others were told I was there. One by one they gathered until I had about two dozen agitated farmers talking about Plan Colombia and how they would lose their only source of extra income," says Howard. But when he asked to see a coca field, all eyes averted. Finally, one woman said: "I'm not afraid. I'll take you to my field." After walking some distance and ducking under barbed wire fences, they arrived at her field. "She stood there stroking the coca leaves and began to cry," says Howard. "She and her two sons worked the land because her husband was disabled, she told me. And then she said, 'I don't know how we'll get by without the coca.' "
BEST BEHAVIOR: The story about a missing Ukraine journalist reminded the Monitor's Scott Peterson of a visit to Iran several years ago, when he was warned to be careful. In response to a US congressional bill to spend $20 million to "undermine" the government of Iran, the same sum was set aside by Iranian officials for catching American subversives. "A diplomat told me to stay away from local women, and know that they were looking for any excuse to arrest a Westerner."
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