• SAFETY OVER COMFORT: When World Food Program officials described how they'd "camouflaged" their cars to avoid being identified as US officials (page 1), reporter Kevin Begos had no trouble understanding their safety concerns.
"When I arrived in Baghdad, the driver I hired took me around in a 15-year-old sedan. It was fairly nondescript. After a few days, we started to discuss taking a longer trip. The next day, he showed up driving an expensive, black, late-model car with tinted windows. He'd borrowed it from a friend or relative. It was a gesture of kindness to make me more comfortable. But he and my interpreter noticed that Iraqis in the street started looking at us differently as we approached.
"We all agreed that it would be safer if we switched back to the old car. Given the rise in attacks and looting, none of us wanted to be mistaken for a wealthy or important Westerner."
• TOUR DE COUCH: Peter Ford always says that the aspect of his job that he enjoys the most is reporting from the field. But he has to admit that sometimes that is not entirely true. For the last couple of days, boning up on the sort of strategy and tactics that Tour de France riders employ (page 1), he did his most effective background reporting by lying on his back in front of the TV, watching the Tour unfold. French TV carries every instant of the race live, filmed from helicopters, motorcycles and fixed positions, and expert commentators deconstruct every turn of the pedal, which proved very helpful. "It has been a pleasure to find that sometimes my work consists of what ordinary Frenchmen spend their summer holidays doing - watching the Tour," Peter says.
David Clark Scott
• FRIENDSHIP RETURNS TO BEIJING: Just days after closing its doors, laying off nearly half its 850 employees, and informing managers that it was no longer profitable, the venerable "Friendship Store" of Beijing was reopened for business Thursday.
As reported on July 7 "No more 'Friendship' in Beijing," the state-run department store was not known for its service, but once offered the only Western consumer shopping in China's capital. Employees sent home last week were suddenly told to report for work. Clerks and the deputy manager of the grocery department told reporters they heard that bad handling of a landmark symbol of China's good will could damage international feelings toward the country. They were told the reopening was "temporary," and that extensive renovations would take place in the following year.