Reporters on the job

Is that a guava or a grenade? The Afghan capital of Kabul is a relatively safe place to work now. And today's story about the language shift went without a hitch (page 1). But yesterday, the Monitor's Ilene Prusher was reminded that it was a battle zone not that long ago. She met with the US Embassy spokesman in the courtyard, since the Embassy itself is in a state of considerable disrepair. Bundled in a full-length winter coat, Ilene and the press officer pulled up chairs on the lawn. "We'd only begun to talk when a US marine interrupted. 'Excuse me, sir, but we have to ask you to move back a bit. There's a grenade in this tree, and we're bringing in an ordnance team,' he said, pointing to the boughs over our heads.

"We moved back about 15 or 20 feet. It was so matter of fact, almost as if we'd been told there's a bird's nest overhead. We started talking again, but the marine came back and asked us to move farther back. It was a bizarre Kabul moment. "


THE RIGHT TO BE BORN: The French parliament voted yesterday to overturn a controversial legal precedent by passing a new bill that removes any legal right "not to be born." The vote ended a year-long moral controversy - reported in the Monitor's Dec. 7 issue - involving politicians, doctors, and parents of handicapped children. Agence France-Press reports that Prime Minister Lionel Jospin put his weight behind the bill intended to replace the so-called Perruche ruling, under which a handicapped boy was awarded financial compensation "for having been born."

The boy's mother, Josette Perruche, said she would have had an abortion if she had known that her son would be born handicapped. The court's acknowledgment of Mrs. Perruche's main grievance - that her son was allowed to be born - sparked a nationwide debate on ethics and sent shock waves through the medical profession.

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