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Reporters on the Job

December 19, 2007



Mickey and Minnie as Chaperones: When the recently divorced French President Nicolas Sarkozy was sighted over the weekend at Disneyland Paris with supermodel-singer Carla Bruni on his arm, it caused quite a stir in the French media. It elicited more attention than Parisians appeared to have in their president's hosting of an international conference on a future Palestinian state (see story).

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French curiosity about the "first girlfriend" came as no surprise to staff writer Howard LaFranchi. But he was surprised that Mr. Sarkozy would choose Disneyland Paris. A presidential first date, chaperoned by Mickey and Minnie? That, he says, deserves an exclamatory "sacré bleu!"

"I was the Monitor's Paris correspondent when former President François Mitterrand worked tirelessly to wrest the proposed Disneyland Europe away from the more logical (because it's sunnier) Spain. When French intellectuals howled that a Disneyland on French soil would be the cultural equivalent of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, Mr. Mitterrand sniffed: Of course, he had no intentions of setting foot in such a place. He simply saw its value as a job-producing development.

"But here was the new French president giddily promenading along Main Street Disneyland, like a high school boy with his first crush," says Howard.

Running Shorts or Pajamas? Staff writer Sara Miller Llana often runs in the mornings as part of her exercise regime. In Tolu, Colombia, one of the women displaced by the armed conflict asked to join Sara on her jog (see story). "When she arrived that morning, she was in a short, little flowery nightgown and sandals. She explained that she didn't have tennis shoes, and her Pentecostal pastor didn't like it when she dressed in shorts," says Sara. "In these remote towns, I'm usually the gringa who gets stared at for wearing shorts and one of my husband's T-shirts. We made a pretty odd couple, but we had a lovely conversation and a very long laugh."

– David Clark Scott

World editor

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