Reporters on the Job

UNINVITED GUEST: Keeping warm in Afghanistan as winter sets in can be a full-time job. But correspondent Scott Peterson and the TV crew he is sharing a room with have found a solution. A few days ago, they bought an "artisan-made" pot-bellied stove, had it installed, and ordered up a pile of wood. But along with the welcome heat came an entirely new hazard, especially for those who wander around the thin carpets barefoot. "Whoa!" shouted a British TV journalist, as he spied the two-inch yellow scorpion that crawled out of the woodpile and did a two-step to avoid it. "I normally draw the line at sharing my home with scorps," Scott said. "Shall I kill it?"

His roommates opted for mercy. Scott got a coffee mug and a newspaper, and "liberated" the scorpion by tossing it over the balcony. Later, Scott wondered if their tiny guest would return soon, riding into the warm house in the next load of wood.

THE NEWS, OFF THE RECORD: People often give journalists the real story or the juiciest quotes - off the record. "You cannot violate that, so you try to incorporate it into the flavor of your story," says the Monitor's Ilene Prusher.

One senior Japanese journalist she spoke to for today's story about Makiko Tanaka (page 7) was frank, but insisted that neither his paper nor his name be mentioned. He said: How does it look for Japan, a modern nation, to ground its first female foreign minister? None of the previous foreign ministers had "a vision for Japan's foreign policy," he told Ilene. "They were all dancing in the palm of the bureaucrats. Here comes Makiko, and she doesn't want to do what they want. You have a sense that, in the Bushido ways (an ancient ethical code of warriors), they are saying, 'We have to get even with her. Can we just cave in and accept that? From a girl?' There's no question that foreign ministry bureaucrats are trying to get rid of her."

Cultural snapshot

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