Reporters on the Job

LIVE TO RIDE ANOTHER DAY: Working many years in the Middle East can lead to a twisted sense of humor, notes Monitor correspondent Scott Peterson. Like a good Boy Scout, Scott rose early Sunday to accompany the US Marines training security guards at 7 a.m. in Najaf (page 1). At nine, he spoke by phone with a colleague in Baghdad, who said Iraq's new governing council was meeting for the first time. The meeting was at 11 a.m., hours earlier than expected.

Najaf is a good two hours from Baghdad by car, so Scott's driver took off in hot pursuit of the opening ceremony. But he was a bit too eager to please, weaving in and out of traffic, dodging erratic Iraqi drivers and slow-moving trucks driving two abreast on the road.

Tired of being on the edge of his seat, Scott finally called for an easing of the gas pedal, using a line passed down from a veteran Mideast correspondent - that always brings laughter, and results.

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"One day, I know I will probably die in a taxi in the Middle East," Scott intoned. "But it's not going to be today, and it's not going to be this taxi. So slow down!"

David Clark Scott
World editor

Follow-up on a Monitor Story

AUSSIE TROOPS TO SOLOMONS? The Solomon Islands will debate whether to allow an Australian-led intervention force to use arms and "reasonable" force to restore order in the Pacific nation, Reuters reports.

The use of the multinational force, the biggest military deployment in the region since World War II, was unanimously approved last week by the Solomons parliament. Wednesday it will debate legislation about the rules of engagement for the force of some 2,000 police and troops.

As reported on June 17, ("In shift, Australia offers helping hand to Solomons"), the former British protectorate - once known as "the Happy Isles" - is teetering on the brink of anarchy after years of fighting between ethnic militias.

Cultural snapshot

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