• Once Burned, Twice Shy: Correspondent Michael Jordan thought it would be relatively straightforward to talk with the Bulgarian nurses who spent years in a Libyan jail before finally being freed. "For eight years, they had wanted as much media attention as they could get," says Michael. "Now they shun it."
The reasons, says Michael, are pretty clear. Bulgaria is the poorest country in the European Union. Citizens are discouraged, he says, by corruption and politicians who promise a lot but don't deliver. "So when they see the nurses pushing for aid, like healthcare, they wonder, 'Why you? Just like everyone else, you're trying to grab something for yourself.' "
Ultimately, Michael spoke to two nurses. The second responded when he expressed interest in a movie the nurses hope to make. "Then, the return e-mail said, 'CALL ME.' They've become much savvier."
• Piloting in Turbulent Times: The sheer absurdity of Afghanistan's past became apparent to staff writer Mark Sappenfield when he interviewed three Afghan pilots who had joined the Air Corps during Soviet days (see story). "The seniormost pilot had trained the other two, so they were friends dating back to 1987. During the war against the mujahideen, they were all the targets of the Stinger missiles that the US sent to militants in Pakistan.
"After the fall of the Soviet regime, one was the pilot of a warlord, Rashid Dostum," Mark says. "The other two were pilots of the government. Whenever Dostum's pilots came to Kabul, they were attacked, meaning the friends were now ... enemies."
Now, they are all together again, Mark says. And with the Taliban gone, they don't worry about being beheaded for not taking off with an overloaded helicopter.
– Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor