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Reporters on the Job

What Slaves? Photographer Georgina Cranston made the four-hour drive into the Niger desert this past Saturday to witness what was supposed to be an unprecedented release of 7,000 slaves. She was the only Western photographer there, and rode in a convoy of local journalists, government officials, and nongovernment groups working on human rights in the north African nation. But her heart sank when they arrived.

"There were only about 200 people there. And none of the slaves or slave owners would speak to us. The human rights workers told us that they were told not to talk to the media or were too scared to talk," says Georgina. The release was effectively canceled, because the head of Niger's Human Rights Commission says that there are no slaves in the country.

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But some of the photos shown here of slaves in Niger were taken during the two weeks that Georgina spent prior to the "no-slaves-here" event. "I went from village to village, speaking to them and getting their stories and their photos. The only time they would speak to me was when their masters were not around. Some of those I spoke with were former slaves. In Niger, this has been going on for so long that many slaves are simply born into it. Their parents are slaves and they become the property of their masters at birth."

The Sound of Cairo : Correspondent Gretchen Peters has lived in some of the world's noisiest cities - but nothing tops Cairo's din. "In Paris, I lived under the flight path of the Concorde. In Mexico City, street vendors would wake me in the morning with high-pitched whistles to sell their tamales.

But Cairo natives don't seem to notice the noise." Gretchen says that from where she lives the call to prayer "sounds good. But if you're near dueling loudspeakers, that start the call to prayer at different times, it can be overwhelming. I can see how Egyptians might complain."

David Clark Scott
World editor


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