•Children of Lebanon: While covering today's story about southern Lebanese children returning to school, reporter Lucy Fielder was struck by how remarkably resilient they seemed. "It's nice to see kids being kids. They were in high spirits. Some were quite cheeky," she notes.
More than that, she was impressed by their ability to rise above the hardships in the wake of this summer's war between Hizbullah and Israel. "Many don't have homes. They're living with relatives or friends – three or four families to a house. Yet they weren't complaining," Lucy says.
In fact, as Shiite Muslims and probably children of supporters of Hizbullah, "they were proud. They feel they scored a victory against Israel. No adults were around telling them what to say, but it was hard to keep them on the subject of returning to school. They are fiercely proud of resisting Israel."
• Afghan Critics Banned: The Afghan government has banned a group that has advocated legalizing opium production, reports the BBC. The same group issued a report in September critical of the reconstruction efforts in the country.
As reported on May 16, the Senlis Council, a think tank based in Paris, noted that there is a worldwide shortage of morphine and codeine, two medicines produced from poppies. The group proposed limited, legal opium production as an alternative to Afghan farmers participating in the growing illicit trade.
Afghanistan now produces about 90 percent of the world's illegal opium.
The Interior Ministry said the Senlis Council had been "confusing farmers" about poppy cultivation. Critics say the ban is to appease the US, which wants a drug eradication program.
David Clark Scott