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Reporters on the Job

• HOME FOR THE NEW YEAR: The Monitor's Robert Marquand enjoyed reporting today's story about the world's biggest one-day migration (page 7). He went to one of the two main train stations in Beijing. "I've been in train stations all over the world, and nothing compares with this in terms of the scale or choreography. Everyone moves with a sense of purpose." Bob marveled at the rare portrait of all strata of Chinese society. "Everyone travels home by train." And he was struck by the openness of people.

"Often, people don't open up, particularly if you're using an interpreter. They assume that the interpreter works for the government, so the conversation takes on an official tone. But this was different. People forgot about their inhibitions. One fellow talked about standing on a train for 37 hours to go home to see his parents. It illustrates how strong the chord of family ties is here, and that can't be ignored when you're looking at this society."

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• WAITING TO TANGO: No trip to Buenos Aires is complete without a visit to a tango show, says the Monitor's Howard LaFranchi. But as he and photographer Andy Nelson discovered recently, even the city's passion for the tango has been hit by Argentina's economic crisis (page 1).

"Our last night there we picked a club called Esquina Homero Manzi in an old neighborhood, but the place was nearly empty," Howard says. "Granted it's summertime, and there was an important soccer match that night. But that doesn't explain why more people were on stage - 12 in all - than in the audience.

The manager, Carlos Astorga, told Howard that his club usually draws 90 percent Argentines, but many have stopped coming because of concerns about the economy, and worry over social instability. At one point, one of the singers on stage belted out, 'Buenos Aires seems like Buenos Aires again, Buenos Aires is back!,' but it rang hollow. The whole show felt like a dress rehearsal for the better times the Argentines are hoping for."

- David Clark Scott

World editor


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