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REPORTERS ON THE JOB...

NO ONE SAYS 'CHEESE': Reporter Dan Murphy is trying to improve as a photo- grapher. But he didn't get much practice while working on a story about the tragic intersection between Indonesia's counter-insurgency campaign in Aceh, the independence movement, and the ExxonMobil gas plant there.

"Usually, the problem with taking pictures is that people smile radiantly the moment you turn the lens on them - even when they've just lost their homes. In Lhokseumawe, they reacted to the camera like it was a gun." Murphy - who's traveled extensively in Indonesia's conflict regions - says the fear of military reprisals among the people in Lhokseumawe is greater than anything he's seen elsewhere.

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FOLLOW-UP ON A MONITOR STORY...

CHEAPER AIDS DRUGS: A generic drug manufacturer has asked South Africa for permission to sell its own cheap versions of patented AIDS medications in the country, Associated Press reports.

As reported in the Monitor on Feb. 28, the Indian drug company Cipla made an earlier offer to sell copies of the patented medications to developing countries for about $600 a year per person - about 5 percent of the drugs' cost in the United States and Europe. Some drugmakers sees such attempts as a violation of patent law.

Earlier this week, lawyers representing 40 drug companies began arguing in court against a 1997 South African law that would have allowed the importation or manufacture of generic versions of patented medications. The trial was postponed until April.

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