Reporters on the Job

WAR INFLATION: Wherever journalists flock, prices will rise. Reporter Philip Smucker has been in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, for four weeks. His room rents for $25 a night. But journalists just arriving are paying $150 a night for a room with no bathroom. Drivers are charging $100 per day, and a lot of the business is contracted through the local warlords (see page 1). At Thanksgiving, Phil paid a modest dinner bill for a dozen fellow journalists and Afghan translators. When he approached the hotel chef about a similar end-of-Ramadan feast, the chef said he wouldn't lift a spoon for less than $200. "The warlords are dividing their time equally between profiteering and clearing out Al Qaeda," he says.

A WINDOW OPENS: Anne Cadwallader went to Northern Ireland for six months, and stayed for 20 years. "No regrets at all," she says. But until now, political battles over policing and the courts have been cloaked in secrecy. That's what makes today's story special (this page). "It has been refreshing to witness this kind of row first hand, in public, where voters can judge the protagonists. In the past, power struggles have been fought with the vital issues they concern hidden from view. It's just one of many positive results of the Northern Ireland peace process."

FOLLOW-UP ON A MONITOR STORY.

AIDS DRUG RULING: A South African court ruled last week that the government has to provide an antiretroviral drug to pregnant women diagnosed as HIV-positive. As Nicole Itano reported on Aug. 2, an AIDS-activist group sued the South African government for not making nevirapine, a relatively inexpensive drug, available. The court ruled that citizens have a right to certain treatments under the Constitution. Some experts see this as opening the door for other lawsuits demanding universal access to AIDS drugs. The Minister of Health is questioning the court's authority in the case.

Cultural snapshot

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