Reporters on the job

FOLLOWING THE MONEY: Despite being British, European correspondent Peter Ford is an unabashed euro-enthusiast. He stood in line at an ATM in Paris at 10 past midnight early Tuesday to get his first euro bills. But when he went to interview vendors yesterday about their experience with the new currency, he found that journalists are much more excited about the euro than anyone else. "Before I could take my notebook out of my pocket, a BBC TV crew pounced on me for an interview about what it is like to shop with the new money," he says. "I think they hoped that a fellow Brit would be suitably skeptical. I had to disappoint them."

AND MONEY TALKS: Mike Crawley's had experience traveling in Congo, and he says it helps. The times are so bad there that people are "creative" about finding ways to make earn extra cash. So on the last night of his stay in Kinshasa, when he was paid a visit by an immigration officer, Mike was prepared. "She wanted us to meet on the terrace," where no one could observe us, he says. "I insisted that we meet in the hotel lobby instead."

After examining his visa, the official said it was only valid for a week. "I pointed out that it says it's valid for three months after the date of issue," Mike says. The officer reluctantly accepted.

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UP ON THE ROOFTOP.... One of the biggest challenges Ilene Prusher faces in Afghanistan is communicating with the outside world. Her satellite phone works only sporadically, and only from the fifth-floor rooftop of the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, where she is staying.

But she finds that to hold even a brief conversation, she has to walk in circles around the rooftop, trying to find a spot where the signal is strong. "Now I understand, in all that television footage that runs over and over of Osama bin Laden, why he's walking in circles while talking on the phone. Although I hate to connect myself with him in any way, he's probably using the same kind of phone I am."

Cultural snapshot

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