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Reporters on the Job

A NEW VIEW OF DDT: Reporter Nicole Itano, who lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, didn't know much about the pesticide DDT before working on today's story (page 7). "Johannesburg is at too high an altitude to be bothered by mosquitoes and malaria. They don't use DDT here," she says. But Nicole spotted some stories in the local papers about the return to using the pesticide elsewhere in South Africa. Her initial reaction was: "That's got to be really bad for the environment."

It seemed like another example of a product banned in the US and Europe being carelessly used in the developing world. But her research changed her view. "This story illustrated to me the dangers of an all-or-nothing-attitude. Yes, you don't want to spray in massive quantities on agricultural crops. But, used in smaller quantities, it's saving lives."

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DISMISSED BY THE CIA: While reporting today's story in Fallujah, Iraq, Wednesday, the Monitor's Ilene Prusher heard there was a big meeting between senior sheikhs of the region and "a US general."

An Iraqi in the mayor's office offered to lead her and two other reporters to the site. "We drove into this somewhat remote area outside the city, then down a tight alleyway, and we're in three cars talking to each other on walkie-talkies. We started getting nervous. 'Do you really think an American general would come down here?' 'No way, this is ambush land.' 'Should we turn around?'

"Suddenly, we came upon a beautiful, luxurious reception hall with lots of shiny, expensive, recent-model cars parked in front of it. It was indeed a meeting of tribal sheikhs. It was just starting. We interviewed one or two briefly, but decided to wait to interview them until after they had a chance to talk among themselves."

About half an hour later, several Humvee loads of Special Forces arrived, and an American wearing a baseball hat, mirrored sunglasses, jeans, and a bright blue T-shirt. "CIA," said one sheikh.

"The American was smiling," says Ilene, "but turned cold when we introduced ourselves. 'This is a private meeting,' he said. 'We would really appreciate it if you would leave.'" Ilene and her colleagues argued that they had been invited to stay by the local sheikhs and would wait outside until the end of the meeting. No, Ilene was told, they would have to leave.

"'We don't deal with press,' the American said a few times. We turned to our liaison, a tall young sheikh holding a Thuraya satphone. 'Who's in charge?' we asked him. 'They are,' he said. So, reluctantly, we left."

David Clark Scott
World editor


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