Reporters on the Job

Lose the Game, Win an Interview: To report the story about Chinese soldiers participating in United Nations peacekeeping efforts in Sudan (see story), correspondent Danna Harman went to the southern Sudan town of Wau. "I saw plenty of Chinese soldiers there, but it was the same old story: no one had permission to talk to me," she says.

She was discouraged, but not quite ready to give up. She heard that the Chinese were having a ping-pong tournament the next evening at one of their camps. She decided to crash the party.

"I can't play ping-pong, but I can be funny. So, we all had a laugh. But underneath the silliness, I was playing my heart out and was scared that this was my last chance to make Chinese friends in Sudan and get someone to talk to me for this story," she says. "I'm sure that most of them were thinking, 'Who is this awful foreigner trying to play table tennis with us?' Finally, after several 0-21 matches, I found someone who agreed to do an interview. Never has there been such a happy loser!"

La Mordida: As a resident of Mexico, staff writer Sara Miller Llana faces the same police corruption, on a much smaller scale, that the government is trying to stem with its wholesale firing of nearly 300 top federal officers (see story). "I never realized how widespread the problem was in Mexico until I rented a car. We were literally in the car for three minutes, when we made an innocent wrong turn. We were told our car would be impounded for having driven in the bus lane or we could pay a mordida, which means "bite." Sara has a friend with a red truck and Massachusetts plates. She says he gets pulled over constantly because foreigners are seen as easy marks.

– David Clark Scott
World editor

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