Reporters on the job

• SAFER IN THE USA: While working on today's story, the Monitor's Howard LaFranchi learned that Colombia's president-elect, Alvaro Uribe Vélez (page 1), will spend more than a month in the US before taking office Aug. 7.

"He'll rest up, meet with some US officials, and participate in at least one conference in Washington, Colombian sources told me. But there's a bigger reason to go north: his personal safety. 'He wants a vacation, but most of all it would be terrible for anything to happen to him here in Colombia at this point,' one source told me. The the death threats against Mr. Uribe are getting more serious now," Howard says.

• HIGHWAY HIJINKS: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf had heard that many Northern Alliance troops were a law unto themselves, but on the road to Gardez to meet Badsha Khan (page 8), he saw it for himself.

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"We were just coming through the narrow Tera Pass when we saw a checkpoint manned by about a dozen unruly looking men. When they saw our car, they shouted: 'Stop the car!' Our driver knew they simply wanted a ride, so he kept driving.

" 'Stop the car!' they repeated, but this time we could hear them cocking their assault rifles.

"So we stopped, and my Afghan interpreter got out of the car and explained that he was escorting a foreign journalist (me) to an important meeting with a warlord. The chief of the checkpoint looked inside the car, saw me dressed in local garb, and smiled apologetically. When my colleague returned to the car, he was fuming. 'This is our security,' he said. 'They thought we were all Afghans so they could do what they wanted.' "

– David Clark Scott

World editor

Cultural snapshot

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