• TRIBAL BUREAUCRACY: Reporter Sarah Simpson had sought and received permission from the proper local authorities and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to interview Liberian refugees for Tuesday's story (page 7). But that wasn't enough. When she arrived at the packed transit center, she was told that the refugees' representative had to clear her.
"There were refugees from all over Liberia. But they had their own hierarchy, including an elected representative, within the center. I was told to sit in the shade and wait for their chairman to meet me. It hadn't occurred to me that it was just as important to the refugees that I go through their official channels," says Sarah.
"Like most Liberians I've met, he was cooperative and happy to let me interview the refugees," she says.
• BANGKOK STERILIZED: Thailand's leadership has been scrubbing, painting, and primping Bangkok to put the city's best foot forward for the world leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC). But reporter Simon Montlake is not impressed by some of the improvements. All the street vendors have been cleared from the main streets, and public holidays have been declared to cut down on traffic and make it easier for summit attendees to get to events. "It's great to see what the city looks like without the stands selling noodles, knock-off jeans, and books," says Simon. But as a resident, he's already pining for the old Bangkok.
"It's harder to find a place to eat noodles after 9 p.m., and frankly, the city looks less lively," he complains. "To my eye, it doesn't look like the can-do metropolis that Prime Minister Shinawatra was hoping to convey to visitors (page 7)."
David Clark Scott