Reporters on the Job

APEC FASHION STATEMENT: As they do every year, Pacific Rim leaders appeared Sunday in Shanghai, China, decked out in matching attire selected by the host country of the APEC summit. In Canada, it was leather flight jackets. New Zealand chose black (in honor of their famous rugby team). At this meeting, it was the traditional Chinese jacket (page 1 photo). Some of the world leaders looked a bit uncomfortable. But the Monitor's Robert Marquand is a big fan of the jacket, which is also worn by martial-arts practitioners. He's bought several as gifts for family and friends. "They weren't quite as elaborate as the ones worn Sunday." But there were a few giggles from the Western press corps. "Some colleagues observed that it was hard to tell the world leaders from the bellhops at the Hotel Portman - who had similar jackets."

TREASURING TRASH: Environmental consciousness hasn't yet arrived in northern Afghanistan - although ad hoc recycling is big, observes the Monitor's Scott Peterson. The house where Scott and several colleagues are staying overlooks a stunning bucolic, riverine valley, where farmers till their fields in the morning. The journalists have been taking great care to put all their garbage in tied sacks.

But after a few days, they began to notice that tin wrappers and tin cans began appearing around the grounds. One morning Scott woke to hear the plastic sacks being emptied outside his window. "We suggested that they bury the garbage," says Scott. But each morning it gets dumped out the window. In fact, because the scrap metal can be sold, local children have identified Scott's home as a new gold mine. "Now, every morning, the children come by, waking the house up with calls to drop more trash out the window," says Scott.

Cultural snapshot

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