Reporters on the Job

New Zealand Herald, Glenn Jeffery
ROOT FOR A KING : As part of the installation of the South Pacific’s newest monarch, Tonga’s King George Tupou V, a drink is prepared out of kava roots. Roasted pigs and gifts were also part of the centuries-old ceremony on Wednesday.

What Closed Factory? It became clear to staff writer Peter Ford, as he reported his story about Beijing closing factories ahead of the Olympics, that not only Chinese but also a number of foreign-owned firms had been shut down.

But he found that no one was talking about it. One German manager bluntly denied what Peter had seen with his own eyes – that his factory was not working.

"This is partly because nobody wants to be heard whining about the Olympics when the government attaches so much importance to them," says Peter. "But it is also a question of the bottom line: Firms that may have been closed by the Chinese government because of the dangerous chemicals they use risk being seen as polluters if their closure becomes public. And if customers in the US or Europe get the idea a firm has moved its 'dirty' production line to China, that would have a disastrous effect on its image, and on its stock price."

Carried Over a Moat: To get into the new Baghdad sports center where staff writer Tom A. Peter reported today's story, he had to cross a moat.

The only entrance to the center's pool area was blocked by a moat full of iodine water to clean people's feet. "It was designed to be difficult to avoid," says Tom.

He was wearing full body armor and didn't have time to take off his shoes. Still, he managed to cross over the moat without any problems. But when it came time to leave, he was stuck.

"The pool deck was slippery, and I just couldn't get over the moat," he says. After struggling for at least a minute, an Iraqi teenager appeared and carried him across the moat before Tom could say a word. "With all my body armor and equipment I must have weighed close to 220 pounds. It was one of those little gestures that really turns your day around," he says.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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