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Reporters on the Job

HEAVY LIFTING: Monitor correspondent Peter Ford went to the island of Ons, off Spain's Galician coast, to report on the extent of the damage that the Prestige oil spill has done to that national park, and on efforts to clean it up (page 1). By lunchtime Tuesday, he had seen and heard enough to write his story, and the fishing boat that had carried him to the island was not due to pick him up until the evening. So he donned protective gear and joined about 100 volunteers for an afternoon's work of cleaning up.

"Sometimes writing about a disaster from an objective distance is not enough; you have to do something more practical to help," he says.

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But Peter says some time at the gym might have been useful by way of preparation."My right arm is not used to handling anything much heavier than a computer mouse," he says. "I nearly pulled it out of its socket lugging 60-pound buckets of oil up the hill."

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON? Before The Monitor's Ilene Prusher moved to Turkey (this page), she'd heard the "Asian" side of Istanbul was going to be poorer and less developed than the "European" side. But a little window shopping on the Asian side changed her view. "I couldn't find a loveseat for less than $1,500," she says. In fact, she found, the Asian side has some pretty nice neighborhoods. A Turkish friend moved to the Asian side and keeps a speedboat in his backyard - the Bosporus strait. And "it has great restaurants and clubs people on [the European] side go out of their way to visit."

"I've seen very traditional people living in hovels on the European side, and I've seen ultrawealthy, supereducated folks living on the Asian side," Ilene notes. "In Turkey these days, what continent you live on says very little about your lifestyle and standard of living."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor

Cultural snapshot