• AN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE: The dismal state of the economy isn't a concern just of single moms in Israel . Last weekend, an old friend of the Monitor's Cameron Barr paid a visit to Israel and Cameron and his friend had lunch. "It was a reminder of the odd mixture of anxiety and just a little bit of hope that permeates many Americans' understanding of Israel," Cameron says.
For starters, when Cameron suggested a certain cafe, the friend asked, "Hasn't that place been bombed?"
When they arrived, Cameron took a seat at the rear "because the place is popular and there were no other small tables. But my friend assumed my choice of seating was a security calculation. I assured him otherwise," Cameron says.
After a discussion about the conflict and the possibility that a new US-backed peace plan might work, the friend asked, "If I may be very blunt, is Israel a good investment?"
• VENEZUELAN VEGGIES: For today's story about Cuban assistance to Venezuela, reporter Mike Ceaser tracked down Cuban doctors living in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Caracas. He was impressed by their dedication, but Mike was surprised to find two professionals from the heralded Cuban health care system smoking cigarettes.
Mike didn't have to go so far to find Venezuelan gardeners being trained by Cuban agronomists. "The empty lot across the street from my apartment building has been transformed into an urban garden," he says. An out-of-work Venezuelan bus driver told Mike he's making a living - and building a better physique. "With all the hoeing and shoveling, he' s lost 30 lbs."
In his own personal contribution to the effort, Mike has begun donating his organic waste to the urban compost pile. Mike, too, is hoping to make a deal for some of the fresh vegetables.
David Clark Scott