Reporters on the Job

Certifiably Heavy: Staff writer Scott Baldauf had arrived in Ethiopia ( see story) just a few hours before his picture, at the top of the page, was taken. "I was walking up a narrow road in the Entoto Hills looking for women carrying fuel wood down into Addis Ababa," he says. "The elevation is well more than a mile high, so I felt like the Marlboro Man at the New York Marathon (and I don't smoke). Women were coming down with wood on their backs, more or less trotting to market to beat the competition. They were as young as 8 and as old as mid-60s, and the stories they told of the abuse of forest guards (including sexual assault) and the piddling amount they earned left me dumbstruck. I asked one 10-year-old girl to let me carry her load for a bit. She showed me how to hoist it by crouching down and putting a rope around my neck. It weighed about 44 lbs.; the girl couldn't have weighed more than 80 lbs."

BBC Poll: The image of the US has deteriorated globally in the past year, according to a poll by the BBC World Service of 26,381 people in 25 countries. About half said the US influence in the world was largely negative. More than two-thirds believed the US military presence in the Middle East provoked more conflict than it prevented and only 17 percent thought US troops there were a stabilizing force. For the full poll, which examines views on Iraq, Guantánamo Bay, the Israeli-Hizbullah war, Iran, North Korea, and global warming, go to http://news.bbc.co.uk.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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