• LOOKING FOR CHANGE: Reporter Ben Lynfield traveled to the Gaza Strip to report today's story about the pending release of Palestinian prisoners. "I'd read and heard about how happy people were that the main north-south road was no longer blocked by Israeli army checkpoints," says Ben. He went expecting to see a changed world, but was disappointed.
The road is open and the checkpoint near the Palestinian refugee camp is gone - sort of. "There's an Israeli armored personnel carrier parked a couple of dozen meters from the road," says Ben. "Yes, there's less shooting and killing on both sides now. But the feeling on the ground is that not a lot has permanently changed. It would take less than a minute for the Israelis to reestablish the checkpoint," he notes.
David Clark Scott
• THE BEST PLACES TO LIVE: Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Australia, and the Netherlands rank as the best countries in which to live in the 2003 UN Human Development report released Tuesday (www.undp.org/hdr2003/). But Canadians are miffed, reports Reuters.
The United States ranks seventh and Canada is eighth (it held first place for seven years until 2001) in the report that seeks to go beyond per capita income and include such factors as educational levels, health care, and life expectancy in measuring a nation's well-being. The report also ranks women's participation in political and economic fields. It says that women fare better in Botswana, Costa Rica, and Namibia than they do in Greece, Italy, and Japan. But the Canadian media reports that 89 percent of the country has an "absolute conviction that we have a better quality of life than the United States."