• TRUE MOTIVES: Reporter Arie Farnam decided that the best way to illustrate today's story about controversy over European Union agricultural policy (page 7), was to find two farmers who live on opposite sides of a border separating a current EU member from a candidate country. It was international relations in miniature, and she found that the best way to do the job was to scout the area by bicycle.
"OK, I admit it. I lobbied my editors for this story with this methodology already in mind," says Arie. In the Czech Republic, southern Bohemia offers a beautiful landscape of green pastures and colorful forests in the fall. Back roads wind from village to village across the dikes of fish ponds and lakes that dot the countryside. Over the border in upper Austria, the scenery is, if anything, more spectacular - a patchwork of tiny fields and hedges rising to the foothills of the Alps.
"I found my farmers by riding from village to village with a pocketful of addresses from local friends. For the record, it wasn't all idyllic cycling. I rode through high winds and bursts of rain. And I was chased by a farmer with a pitchfork. But all in all, it was one of the most enjoyable stories I have done in a long time. I only wish making the rounds of EU bureaucrats were half as pleasant," she says.
• SIX HOURS TO NOWHERE: The Monitor's Scott Peterson says he drew the short straw in covering one of the five teams of UN inspectors fanning out from Baghdad yesterday. "We drove six hours through the desert to the Syrian border and spent six hours waiting at the gate to a uranium mine (page 1)," he says. At press time, Scott still hadn't been let in to take a look, and the inspectors had left to find a place to spend the night. He now faces a six-hour return trip past armed Baathist Party militants who pop up occasionally on the highway. "It's unnerving. I've never seen them on this road before."
David Clark Scott