• Betwixt and Between: Correspondent Nicholas Blanford discovered after interviewing truck drivers stranded on the border between Lebanon and Syria (this page) that he was entering a bureaucratic abyss. "I had to officially leave Lebanon - passing through the customs post, getting my passport stamped, etc. - but I wasn't actually going into Syria. The trucks were parked along the seven-mile no man's land between the Lebanese and Syrian customs posts," says Nick. "When I finished my interviews, I returned to the Lebanese customs building on the border. The customs officer noticed that I had only left Lebanon a couple of hours before and that I had not crossed into Syria. He said that foreigners were not supposed to do that, adding he would not say anything this time."
• Lost Luster in Brazil: Machine gun- toting police raided Brazil's most luxurious store, Daslu, Wednesday and detained its owner on suspicions of tax evasion, fraud, and racketeering.
Police detained Eliana Tranchesi, her brother, and two other executives as part of "Operation Narcissus," the São Paulo public prosecutor's office told Reuters.
As reported in the Monitor on July 12, "A stone's throw from poverty, Brazil's Daslu glimmers," the store is famous for its personalized service. Authorities accuse the Daslu executives of setting up fake companies abroad to buy merchandise and underreporting the goods' value to evade some $10 million in taxes over the past 10 months.
David Clark Scott