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Reporters on the Job

Packing a Pen: Monitor reporter Howard LaFranchi says his assignment to Haiti has had him thinking about the current controversy, particularly involving Iraq, over whether journalists should either arm themselves or travel with security detail in hostile environments.

"I confronted what I felt were more threatening situations in Haiti than I did during an assignment in Iraq last year, but I still never felt I would have been better off carrying a weapon."

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But in a heavily armed country like Haiti, it's clear that people assume even journalists might be armed. "Twice, very agitated Aristide supporters pulled up my shirt to see if I had a gun tucked into my pants. I told one young man who confronted me at a pro-Aristide rally and whom I quote in Thursday's's story (this page) that the only arm I carry is my pen and notebook. He quieted down a bit and complained that in his view, the international press doesn't tell the truth. I told him that was why I was talking to him, and that I'd do my best to get the story right."

Looter Target: Not even the Commonwealth War cemetery in Baghdad escapes the interest of looters, says Scott Peterson. During the decades of Saddam Hussein's rule, the cemetery remained untouched. But in the aftermath of the war, it has been a target.

First, Scott's translator noted that the stone cross that once adorned the shrine to Maj. Gen. Stanley Maude - the British general who captured Iraq in 1917, then died of cholera shortly thereafter - was missing.

Then there were two large shipping containers whose locks had been cut after the war - to reveal more than 200 new carved gravestones, sent years ago as replacements for damaged stones.

The Iraqi cemetery guard said that was not all. "He moaned that robbers had stolen two new water tanks that had been placed on a newly built guardhouse," Scott says. "He said his employer, the British Embassy, was going to deduct it from his pay."

Remote Control: When correspondent Ben Lynfield first saw the Israeli satire profiled in Thursday's Monitor (page 1), he thought it was funny enough to be free Friday nights at 9. He also was struck at how many people dressed up as "Luba," a central character, for the carnival-like holiday of Purim this week. His wife, however, took more convincing. "Now, though, she thinks it's funny, having had to watch it regularly for my benefit."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor