Reporters on the Job

A Little Mandarin Saves the Day: Staff writer Peter Ford found his attention drawn to rising food prices in a particularly brutal way the other day. At his local Beijing dumpling dive, after he and his family had enjoyed several wickerwork steamers full of pork and leek ravioli, he called for the bill.

The waitress demanded twice what Peter was accustomed to paying for that amount of food. He balked.

She said the prices had gone up. Peter consulted the menu and found that they had indeed risen. But only from three yuan ($0.40) per dozen ravioli to four yuan.

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Not expecting Peter to be able to decipher a menu in Mandarin, the waitress blustered, then caved.

"Inflation is not 100 percent per month in China," says Peter. "But even a 25 percent hike is pretty hefty."

Tabasco Consciousness Raising: In Mexico City, staff writer Sara Miller Llana says that people compare the transparency about the scope of the Tabasco floods to the lack of information after the 1985 massive earthquake in Mexico City. The magnitude of the destruction was kept under wraps. "One friend told me she literally didn't know about the quake for about 10 days," says Sara. "There is some lingering suspicion that we might not know the full magnitude of this disaster either."

Even now, two weeks later, donations continue to come in , notes Sara. "You still find some people walking down the street collecting money for the people of Tabasco, and calls for donations are still flickering across TV screens. But one analyst I spoke to said that the networks have lost their objectivity on this story and have become centers for charity collection."

– David Clark Scott

World editor

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