Reporters on the Job

Rule of Law in the Rain Forest: Correspondent Andrew Downie says that as he reported today's story on soy farmers in Brazil, he was struck by the European sensitivity to the issue of sustainable farming in the Amazon.

"Companies in Europe are far ahead of the US in this. Consumer pressure on companies to be green, sustainable, carbon neutral, etc., is much more concerted in the Old World," he says. "You could argue that McDonald's responded to criticism of its soy-buying practices merely for public relations reasons. But they responded quickly, and even Greenpeace [the environmental group] praised them for it."

After living and reporting in Brazil for several years, Andrew says that he's seen that laws are "ignored here as a matter of course, even by multinationals. These guys wouldn't dream of doing that in their own countries. But this program could begin to change that, and that is where a glimmer of hope lies. That's what most excited me about this story (see story)."

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No Frivolousness Allowed: Correspondent Sam Dagher says that the strict interpretation of Islamic law was evident throughout his stay in Basra, in southern Iraq – even during meals (see story). During one interview at a waterfront cafe, Sam was interviewing a newspaper editor and two of his friends. "We sat outside. There was no sound of the music that usually fills the air in such places in the Arab world from Cairo, Damascus to even ultraconservative and puritan Saudi Arabia," says Sam. He asked about ordering water pipes, known as "hubbly bubblies," which are smoked in cafes throughout the Arab world, and even in Saudi Arabia. "I was told no way. They said it has been deemed by the Shiite militias, and even the police, as too frivolous of an activity."

– David Clark Scott
World editor

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