Reporters on the Job

NOT-SO-SECRET PROTEST: "Be in front of Auch railway station at 14.00 on Tuesday." The bald text of an unsigned fax was all the Monitor's Peter Ford had to go on when he set off on a six-hour train journey from Paris in search of clandestine anti-biotech protesters who were planning to destroy a plot of genetically modified corn (page 1). But it wasn't hard to find his quarry, Peter says. "Nobody was trying to hide anything. There was a crowd of people in anti-GMO T-shirts at the station cafe, all loudly discussing what they were going to do. I think they rather wanted the police to find them - a prosecution and a trial would be more publicity for their campaign."

RACISM AND WICKETS: The UN conference on racism starts today in Durban, South Africa (page 7), but reporter Nicole Itano got a preview yesterday. She attended the "side conference" held on a cricket field. It was attended by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that weren't participating in the UN meeting. "It looked like a UN gathering - with an edge. There were American hippies, folks in full African garb, or yarmulkes, or burqas. There were also some scuffles at the youth conference over the question of 'Is Zionism racist?' and that's the most volatile issue. But there was also debate about India's caste system, slavery reparations, the US bombing range in Puerto Rico, and a range of human rights issues." Any other observations? "Well, yes. A cricket oval is a lot bigger than a baseball field - at least Fenway Park."

Follow-up on a Monitor story

GURKHA PENSIONS: A British member of Parliament demanded parity yesterday for retired British Army Gurkhas in Nepal. As reported May 15, the pay of Nepalese Gurkhas is linked to rates in the Indian Army rather than the British Army - meaning the Gurkhas receive much less than their British counterparts.

Cultural snapshot

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