Today's Story Line

You've heard of long-distance marriages? In Colombia, they're experimenting with long-distance mayors. It's the only safe way to govern. Even fixing potholes is considered a political act in a nation riven by civil war - and it can mean risking death. The campaigns for public office, culminating in Sunday's (Oct. 29) elections, are just as dangerous. Today's story (page 1) underscores the courage it takes to pursue democratic ideals in some nations.

David Clark Scott World editor


MARKED BY YOUR PLATES: The last time the Monitor's Scott Peterson was in Bosnia was five years ago. "Back then, car license plates identified your ethnic group - Serb, Muslim, or Croat. The first thing any one did, including the police, was to look at your license plate to tell if there was going to be trouble," says Scott. So it was with much trepidation that Scott's taxi driver, with Serbian license plates, drove him from Belgrade to Sarajevo last week. But times have changed. "No one gave our license plate a second look," says Scott.

A LIGHT TO DRIVE BY: Upon reaching the checkpoint at the entrance to Beit Jala and Bethlehem Monday night, the Monitor's Cameron Barr was told by an Israeli soldier that only he - as the bearer of an Israeli press credential - could pass. The Palestinian taxi driver and the Palestinian interpreter could not. They are "Israeli" under the permits they're issued to reside in Jerusalem. The government has banned Israelis from entering Palestinian areas. The driver and the interpreter came up with an alternate route. "But once inside Beit Jala, they insisted on keeping on the taxi's interior light, even though the lights seemed to present a target," says Cameron. The taxi had Israeli plates. They all worried that Palestinians would suspect that Israeli undercover soldiers were in the taxi. The solution: Put the driver and passengers on well-lit display.

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