ANGOLA'S SPIN CYCLE : For her story today on the end of Angola's civil war (this page), reporter Nicole Itano flew from the capital city of Luanda to Huambo, a city in the central highlands, on a 12-seat World Food Program plane. While there is a cease-fire in place, UN rules still require that planes landing in Huambo circle down to the landing strip in a stomach-wrenching spiral that lasts for 5 to 10 minutes. That's because they want to avoid UNITA snipers outside the cities. The same thing happens on the way up. "Fortunately someone warned me before hand, so I passed on breakfast that morning," says Nicole. UN and aid workers, who regularly use the planes to shuttle between cities, say one of the best things about peace for them will be the end of the spirals.
UNPRECEDENTED STREET SCENES: Nick Blanford has lived and reported in Beirut for eight years. But he's never seen the Lebanese "street" so galvanized by the recent events in the West Bank (page 1). "A few months ago, protests were limited to small student sit-ins on university campuses and outside the offices of the United Nations in Beirut," Nick says. "But now we see mass demonstrations of thousands of people in central Beirut, candle-lit vigils, and televised chat shows broadcast live from the scenes of protests." The US Embassy has been the focus of several demonstrations, at least two of which have turned violent.
Many Lebanese, especially Christian Maronites, blame the Palestinians for sparking the country's 1975-90 civil war and don't usually voice much support for them. "But a shopkeeper near my home, himself a former Israeli-allied Christian militiaman who used to fight the Palestinians in the streets of Beirut, said that if he was Palestinian, 'I would turn myself into a human bomb after what the Israelis have done.' "
NO CASH TO STEAL: In Buenos Aires and other Latin American cities, people have complained about ATM muggings. In Argentina, says reporter Colin Barraclough, passengers traveling in freelance taxis (as opposed to radio taxis, which work through an agency) say that drivers would let a mugger into the cab, before driving to an ATM machine, where the passenger would be forced to withdraw cash. But since December, most bank deposits have been frozen (this page), and many ATMs have run out of cash. "People used to be afraid to flag down my cab," one freelance driver cheerfully told Colin. "The crisis may be ruining the country, but it's been a great boost for my business."
David Clark Scott