Reporters on the Job

NEWS FROM THE 'HOOD: Nick Blanford says the recent crackdown on Christian activists was not well-received in the Maronite Christian neighborhood where he lives in Beirut. "Most evenings, I drop by a little corner store and have a chat with the owner," Nick says. "It has become routine for him to ask me in Arabic if there's going to be a war. This is in reference to a war with Israel, given the tensions in the region at the moment. My standard answer, also in Arabic, is to say 'not tomorrow.' He laughs, and that's it until the next time we meet."

In the wake of the arrests, Nick dropped by the store, and the owner asked as usual, "Is there going to be a war?" Nick replied, as usual, "not tomorrow." But this time, the store owner raised his hand in disagreement and muttered, "This time you might be wrong." He was not referring to the Arab-Israel conflict, but to the tensions generated inside Lebanon by the crackdown.

SWEET DREAMs? The Monitor's Howard LaFranchi thought he was dreaming about today's story on the global coffee glut. His sleep thoughts filled with a new twist on "fair-trade" coffee - a trendy category of coffee that is certified to be grown without exploiting either workers or the environment. Turns out it was just his clock radio blasting him awake with a morning coffee-news item. "I thought I was imagining what I was hearing. The announcer for a Washington radio station read a note about a Congressman proposing that only fair-trade coffee be served on the HiIl."

Howard adds that with "globophobe" protesters promising to disrupt next month's regular meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, adopting the proposal would at least give the protesters a place to go get a morning coffee.

- Faye Bowers

Deputy world editor

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