• NO POLITICAL HEAT: Reporter Chené Blignaut was struck by the reaction of French adults, young and old, when she interviewed them for Monday's story about heat-wave deaths in Europe (this page). "The lack of criticism of the French government was surprising. Yes, I saw the polls. Doctors were critical. But most people I spoke with said that the government couldn't have done much. It was a natural disaster, a fluke of nature. And despite the media criticism of President Chirac for not returning from Canada, most people in the street didn't think it would have long-term political consequences," she says.
Even the family of the elderly woman she quoted didn't see any reason to return from vacation to look after grandma.
How did Chené and her family fare during the heat wave? "We missed it. We've just returned from South Africa [where it's winter]. I never thought I'd escape the heat in Europe by going to South Africa."
David Clark Scott
• CUBAN DOCTORS IN CARACAS: Venezuela's government condemned as politically motivated a court decision to bar Cuban doctors from working in Caracas's slums and said they would remain in their jobs.
The ruling last Thursday by the First Administrative Court rekindled a fierce debate in Venezuela about growing cooperation between President Hugo Chavez's government and communist Cuba. Reuters reports that the court decided that 417 Cuban doctors working in Caracas were practicing illegally and should be replaced by local doctors.
As reported in the July 17 Monitor (page 7), "Cubans in Venezuela sow seeds of controversy," more than 1,000 Cuban doctors, sports trainers, sugar experts, and other technicians are working in Venezuela in exchange for the shipment of 53,000 barrels per day of Venezuelan oil to Cuba.