HEIGHT MATTERS: The Monitor's Middle East correspondents recently traded in an unremarkable white sedan for a mini-SUV that sports a tiny cooler (chilled by the car's AC), fold-down trays (ideal for working on a laptop), and a radio that automatically mutes when editors call on the cellphone. But correspondent Cameron Barr says the best feature is the added height. "It revolutionizes the experience at a military checkpoint," he says (page 1). In the old sedan, the driver looked up at a soldier, whose gun typically dangled at eyeball level. "In the new car, you're pretty much eye-to-eye with the soldier. And his gun is almost out of sight."

STREET CONNECTIONS: The Monitor's Howard LaFranchi says the Zapatistas' march to Mexico City (page 1) has been a catalyst of street-corner discussions about everything from Indian rights to racism. "I've had an ongoing conversation with Alberto, a young Mixteco Indian who works in my neighborhood," says Howard. "At first Alberto held his brown hand (what Zapatista leader Marcos calls 'the color of earth') next to my white hand, and said that difference alone made us see things differently." Howard replied, "Does that mean the white, middle-class-bred Marcos really shouldn't be the Zapatista Indians' leader?" The two have also talked about Alberto's family from a poor village in Oaxaca. All of his siblings are adults, and all have good jobs in Mexico City - but none of them speak the parents' native Mixteco tongue, and none want to move back to Oaxaca.

David Clark Scott World Editor


DEPLETED URANIUM STUDY: Contamination caused by DU ammunition used in Kosovo is low, but there are still possible health risks from radiation in the water supply, according to the UN. In its final report on samples taken from 11 out of 112 sites last November, the UN said it found low levels of radiation in the immediate vicinity of targets and mild contamination from depleted uranium dust.

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