Reporters on the Job

• A COMING OUT PARTY? The Monitor's Ilene Prusher today reports Afghans are celebrating the Persian-calendar new year – known as Nawruz – for the first time in years (this page). One of the banners she says hung near a Shiite mosque said: "Life without struggle means nothing, and struggle without spirituality means nothing." It struck her that the new year's message was an appropriate one for the struggle facing Afghans – particularly women – as they rebuild their society.

In the three months since her last visit, she's noticed that Kabul seems more relaxed. "Foreign women are able to go without veils and there are more women's faces on the streets. It's still rare. But there's been talk that this celebration would include women throwing off their burqas," says Ilene. She watched the crowd as folks filed into the Intercontinental Hotel for a big Nawruz party last night. "It was 99.9 percent men."

• A MINI PROTEST: Reporter Cheryl Smith was surprised at the amount of security in Monterrey, Mexico, during this week's UN development conference (page 7). "The security mobilization is pretty amazing," she says. "There are thousands of police officers and a couple of helicopters flying overhead. It looks like an occupied territory near the meeting center."

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Though the beefed-up security is primarily due to concern about antiglobalization protesters, Cheryl says some of the demonstrations have proved to be more head-turning than threatening. "There has already been a 'march of the miniskirts.' Two dozen women marched in protest against the Monterrey municipal government's attempt to enforce a dress code during the conference," she says.

SURVEY SAYS...

• THE BEST AIRLINE: Emirates was voted "Airline of the Year" in a poll of more than four million passengers by Skytrax Research of London. Cathay Pacific took second place, followed by Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa, and Continental Airlines.

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