Today's Story Line

Mention illegal goods crossing the US border, and most Americans think of the drug traffic flowing north. But Mexico's new president is concerned about the contraband coming south - and Vicente Fox is taking steps to curb it (page 1).

David Clark Scott World editor


MISTAKEN IDENTITY: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf and a photographer went into the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan knowing that tensions were high. Some Afghans were becoming desperate for food and medical assistance. "But I wasn't prepared for the crowds that surrounded us at the camps. In most cases, refugees mistook us for aid workers," says Scott. Aid workers come with notebooks and pens, talk to refugees, take their names, and listen to their stories. So do reporters. But reporters use the information to write stories. Aid workers use this information to prioritize those refugees who are in most need of urgent assistance.

"Needless to say, the refugees at Akora Khattak camp outside Peshawar were considerably disappointed we weren't aid workers, but they told their stories nonetheless," says Scott.

HERE KITTY, KITTY: The Monitor's Howard LaFranchi drove back and forth across the US-Mexico border recently to report today's story on Mexico's battle with contraband. "Sitting on the snaking lines of vehicles waiting to pass into the US in both Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, I waved off the usual vendors of sodas, compact discs, cheap ceramic statues, and Mexican blankets," Howard says. "But this year there was something new: Hello Kitty table lamps featuring a Hello Kitty lampshade atop a Hello Kitty base. I knew my 8-year-old daughter would have loved one," Howard says. But he passed.

"I didn't want to be caught with what might be pirated products or contraband, especially since I was writing on the topic."

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