Reporters on the Job

Mohamed Azakir/Reuters
Shoe SOLIDARITY: This exhibit was part of a student protest in Beirut, Lebanon, held in support of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush during a press conference Sunday.

Dine and Dash: Staff writer Peter Ford went to eat at Guo Peiji's restaurant as part of his series on how 30 years of capitalism have changed Chinese lives. There, he got a glimpse of the business practices that have served the old man well since he set up China's first private restaurant 28 years ago.

"Mr. Guo invited me and my interpreter to eat with him after we had finished our interview, and I was happy to accept," says Peter. "To have turned him down would have been churlish, and the food was delicious." Guo disappeared halfway through the meal, however, saying he had something to take care of, and he never came back, sticking Peter with the bill.

Peter also noticed four local policemen, clearly lunchtime regulars, walking out without paying. "Beijing is no different from Buffalo," says Peter. "Restaurants and bars know whose good side they need to stay on to stay in business."

Kabul Crime: Correspondent Gayle Tzemach has been visiting Afghanistan for three years. But this trip, she says, was noticeably different. "This was the worst security situation I've ever seen. It affects everything; your choice of vehicle, your routes around the city, which neighborhoods to visit, what time you need to return, and where you meet."

In the past, Gayle says, she would meet people in their homes or offices. This time, her Afghan contacts insisted on neutral places (see story). "They were far more nervous to be seen with a foreigner. The threat isn't so much the Taliban as the crooks. There's a sense of lawlessness," she says.

At the same time, there's a sense of resiliency. "Traffic is insane. Business is booming. People go on about their lives in situations that others would consider unimaginable," she says.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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