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Reporters on the Job

In the Shadow of Wealth: Peter Ford says he was shocked and ashamed as he visited a run-down squat on the outskirts of Paris (this page). Shocked because it was reminiscent of shantytowns in Latin America - within sight of the gleaming Stade de France, built for the 1998 soccer World Cup. Ashamed because after living in Paris for seven years, he was as ignorant as most French people about the extent of the problem.

Peter was struck particularly by the efforts people had made to keep some dignity: the posters of Mecca on neatly papered walls in one apartment; the cleanliness of children in the tent encampment whose mothers have only buckets and cold water in which to wash children. "They all had decent jobs," says Peter, "and none were in any way 'marginal.' They were just coping with injustice as best they can."

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Aftermath: Reporting today's story on the stampede in Baghdad (page 7) reminded correspondent Jill Carroll of how dilapidated many of Iraq's facilities are. "Hospital patients lie in creaky beds with blankets provided by their families. The medical equipment is inadequate," she says.

She also was reminded of how quickly people leap to assumptions. "Our car broke down, so my translator and I had to hail a taxi. I was ordered not to speak English lest anyone discover I was a foreigner. On the way back from the hospital our driver was a Sunni from Adhimiyah. He told us with authority that it was the ruling Shiite party's Badr Brigade militia that sparked the stampede in order to make the rival Shiite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia look bad."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor


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