Reporters on the Job

OUT OF AFGHANISTAN: Getting into Afghanistan more than two months ago was a challenge for the Monitor's Scott Peterson. Getting out was almost as difficult. Winter snows and bandits have shut down most roads. The UN flights between Kabul and Islamabad, Pakistan, are selling for $2,500 per seat - one way.

Scott first tried to hitch a ride on a helicopter going to Tajikistan. But after a bumpy four-hour ride from Kabul to the helipad, he found that the flight had been canceled by bad weather. After overnighting near the pad, he returned to Kabul.

The next day, he heard that Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations had moved a hospital to Kabul. Scott tracked down the Russian head of the operation late at night, and received his approval to fly to Moscow. The next day, Scott and several other journalists joined the Russian convoy. But at the gate of the Bagram airport, Afghan guards stopped the journalists. After a hope-crushing two-hour delay, Scott flagged down a passing Afghan rebel general he'd met while covering the Northern Alliance front lines. The general let them onto the airbase. But upon arrival in Moscow, Scott faced one final hurdle to getting a ride home. "After two months, I'd forgotten my own phone number!"

GRINNING LIKE THE OLD FOX: During last year's campaign, Gretchen Peters says, Mexican President Vicente Fox was known for being garrulous and joking with the press. But during an interview last week with several foreign correspondents (this page), Gretchen says that "he rarely even looked up, and was kind of snappy on occasion."

"The only time he even broke a smile was when I asked him how his wife reacted to People Magazine naming him the sexiest world leader. For a moment, he returned to the old Vicente, full of machismo. He laughed and said, 'She said nothing, fortunately.' When I asked for his reaction, Fox replied, 'I agreed completely.' "

Cultural snapshot

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