ON THE STAKEOUT: While reporting on today's story about the use of torture in Afghanistan (this page), the Monitor's Scott Baldauf noticed a curious development in Kabul: unlicensed cars with black-tinted windows. Curious, Scott says, because these "shady cars" are unregistered and, therefore, illegal in the country under President Hamid Karzai.
Where did he see these unlawful vehicles? "On about my 10th trip to Amniat [Afghan intelligence] headquarters," Scott says, "trying yet again, in vain, to get an interview with an Amniat official, it occurred to me whom all these unmarked and tinted vehicles belonged to: Amniat. Sitting in the waiting room at the front gate, day after day, I counted dozens of these cars speeding in and out of Amniat headquarters, carrying Afghan intelligence agents to and from their assignments."
Scott wonders what this says about Karzai's control of his own capital, let alone the rest of the country.
PLAYING IN THE SMOG: Moscow correspondent Scott Peterson has felt the impact of smog as much as any other resident of Russia's capital (page 5). "Daddy, we want to go outside to play!" has been a steady refrain from two of his children throughout the long, smog-filled summer.
Scott uses the outline of the traffic police headquarters building across a nearby park as a standard for measuring air quality. When he can see the building clearly, he takes his 8-1/2-month-old son along for rock climbing at a limestone aqueduct and his two older children, 5- and 7-years-old, head off to soccer.
But if the outline of the building is hazy as it has been happening all too often for his youngsters' tastes recently nobody is allowed outside. His two older children are then piled into the car and taken for a swim at the indoor pool in the American embassy compound.
David S. Hauck