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Reporters on the Job

GLOBAL DINING IN KUWAIT: In spite of local political sensitivities over hosting US troops, the Monitor's Cameron Barr found Kuwaitis embracing American culture. In fact, based on the restaurant selection, a visitor could be forgiven for thinking that he or she was in Kansas, not Kuwait. "There's McDonald's, Chili's, KFC, and TGI Friday's here," says Cameron.

But as a former Tokyo correspondent, Cameron was lured by a Japanese restaurant. "The sushi chef was Sri Lankan, the Yellow Tail was from Japan, and the oysters from France. It's the best Japanese food I've had in the Middle East." He also notes that Kuwait feels more Asian than other Arab states. Only about one-third of the population is Kuwaiti. The rest are mainly from the Philippines, India, and Bangladesh.

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NO MILITIA INTERVIEWS TODAY: On the road to La Concordia, Colombia, Martin Hodgson passed through many Army checkpoints and saw US-trained antinarcotics troops in their new uniforms. But their duties apparently don't cover rooting out the local right-wing paramilitary.

"The militias openly patrol the town on motorbikes. Everyone in town knows where the paramilitary live," says Martin. He tried to interview one paramilitary soldier with a black scorpion tattoo on his forearm. "He said: 'We're just farm hands. We wouldn't know anything about the guerrillas or the militias.' "

SURVEY SAYS...

HONG KONG HAS LESS RED TAPE: Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia have the best bureaucracies in Asia, while Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and India have the most cumbersome, says a survey of businessmen by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC). Pay rates, the political environment, and level of economic development are among the factors that determine how well the bureaucratic machinery functions, Agence French-Presse reports.

CULTURAL SNAPSHOT..

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