Reporters on the Job

• COLOMBIA, REVISITED: The Monitor's Howard LaFranchi, who hasn't been in Colombia for a year (page 1), says the Colombian "exodus" – people leaving the country for economic or security reasons – continues unabated.

"As I left one source's home in an upscale Bogotá neighborhood, he pointed to several moving vans parked along the street and said: 'The moving business is about the only one doing well these days, so many people are leaving the country.' "

Howard called another source – the editor of a small communist newspaper who had been involved in Colombia's peace process – and was told he had left for Spain. "I told the receptionist that I had interviewed the paper's editor in his office last year on the day a bomb was found under a truckload of green bananas on the street outside the newspaper. 'Did he go for security reasons?' I asked, to which the receptionist answered, 'Let's say that was one of the reasons.' "

• IT'S ALL IN THE NAME? Arie Farnam says that most Czechs she meets like to think of themselves as moderately right-wing, claiming they hate Communists. "Yet, compared to the US," Arie says, "Most of their attitudes are so far to the left, they don't even register on American political radar (page 7).

"When politicians brought up the idea that one might pay, a bit, for higher education, students threatened to go on strike, and most of the country rallied behind them. A hot issue in Czech healthcare policy might be how many weeks at a spa should be covered by state health insurance.

"With four weeks of paid vacation per year, and three years of paid mother's leave mandated by law, Czechs are still enjoying many of the benefits of their socialist system. It makes one wonder how much support the Communist Party might gain, if these social guarantees are ever seriously threatened."

Cultural snapshot
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