Reporters on the Job

How Secure? How tight is security in Baghdad's Green Zone, which houses Iraq's interim government and the US and British Embassies? Usually very tight, says the Monitor's Scott Peterson, who has been through the gantlet of four separate ID checks and three thorough searches countless times so he can enter the building where most press conferences are held (page 1).

Usually, "thorough" means taking batteries out of cellphones; firing off frames of a camera, to show it works; opening a laptop to make sure it is nothing more than a word cruncher; and even having a sniffing machine probe for explosives.

So what happened Thursday - when the zone became the site of attacks that killed eight people? "Who knows how the bombers got through," says Scott. What he does know is that, when he made a 6:45 a.m. visit Thursday for a meeting, there was no one at the first checkpoint, only the lightest search by US troops at the second, and a wave through by an Iraqi woman at the third.

The World is My Doctor: In recent years, correspondent Mark Rice-Oxley has noticed changes at his medical office (page 5). "I think I've been seen by a New Zealander, a South African, a German, and a Lebanese," Mark says, all of whom bring their own traditions to bear on Britons' experience with their National Health Service.

Mark usually finds the experience quite interesting - but there are communication gaps. The Lebanese doctor, for example, told Mark after an examining his wrist that the issue was his "snuffbox." Puzzled, Mark asked for a translation. The doctor nonchalantly referenced the scaphoid bone - and explained that should someone use snuff in the Middle East, they first balance it on their wrist. "I was impressed he knew the argot and the medical terms so well," says Mark.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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