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Reporters on the Job

VETS RETURN TO KOREA: The Monitor's Robert Marquand has been to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea before. But Sunday's visit was different: Bob went with more than 1,200 old soldiers who gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of the Korean armistice.

Bob was struck by how grateful the veterans from 16 nations were to be there. "A lot of them had felt for years that they just weren't sure that they had done any good - and it meant a great deal for them to see how well South Korea had turned out," he says.

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And almost everyone had a story about how terrible the place had been when they had left. "One gentleman, Leo Cullen Beaudin, who was a retired Port Authority policeman, was impressed by the cleanliness and orderliness of the society today. He pointed out the huge traffic jams, but no dents in the cars."

DIAL MONACO FOR MONROVIA: Reporter Nicole Itano has not yet been able to get into Liberia safely. But she's been monitoring the situation from nearby Abidjan, Ivory Coast, by talking to aid workers and others in Liberia. "The capital of Monrovia has been without electricity or water since 1997, but the cellphones work," she says. "It's this weird setup where you call a Monaco area code and you get put through to the cell tower in Monrovia."

The European Union dug some wells and distributed water with trucks, but that has been stopped by the fighting. Most embassies and hotels have adapted over the years by using generators and rain-water storage tanks. "Fortunately, the aid workers report that it has been raining in the last couple of days, otherwise the situation for most people in Monrovia would be even more desperate than it is," she says.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot