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Reporters on the Job

What Oil Wealth? Correspondent Mike Ceaser says that despite Venezuela being flush with oil money (this page), life for most people hasn't changed greatly in the past year. "There's been a boom in car sales, so traffic is heavier. And the gasoline subsidy was boosted. It's only 12 cents a liter now," he says.

He notes that President Hugo Chávez has pumped money into social programs and political campaigns. "The new medical programs in the barrios and subsidized cafeterias and food stores for the poor coincided with elections here," he says.

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But there's been little private-sector development, he says. As a result, "you still see the sidewalks packed with people selling pirated CDs, renting cellphones, and providing nail care," says Mike.

View from Gaza: Reporting today's story was a reminder to correspondent Ben Lynfield that his office doesn't always offer the best perspective on events. "When you're sitting in Jerusalem or Cairo or Washington, you read optimistic statements about peace in the region. It looks a little different when you talk to someone whose house has just been bulldozed," he says.

The tensions in the Gaza Strip were almost immediately evident. "When I reached the Gaza border crossing, it was closed because Palestinians were firing Kassam rockets at Israel," says Ben. After an hour-and-a-half wait, he was able to proceed. While discussing his story today with editors (page 7), Ben recalled that he had been to the same area four years ago. "When the first big home demolition took place in the Khan Yunis refugee camp, it was big news. It got a lot less attention this time."

David Clark Scott
World editor


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