Today's Story Line

A victory for the United Nations and international pressure? Indonesia yesterday officially set out a welcome mat for peacekeepers in East Timor. But delay may lie in the details. It's not clear when troops will be invited in, who Indonesia will allow to participate, and how free those troops will be to operate.

The power struggle between Iran's hardliners and gradual reformers continues. And the leader of a vigilante group is a key player, for now.

Muammar Qaddafi is taking steps to shed his "Mad Dog" image in the West.

- David Clark Scott, World editor


*UNLEASHED IN TRIPOLI: For years, foreign journalists rarely got a visa to visit Libya, except to witness the revolution anniversary celebrations on Sept. 1, says correspondent Scott Peterson. Veterans of previous visits describe endless desert bus rides, long waits for a scrap of information, and no access permitted to locals. "The media leash has loosened remarkably," says Scott. "We're allowed to leave the hotel and walk the streets of Tripoli unaccompanied by Libyan officials. And I don't think we're followed." But the openness isn't yet felt by Libyans. "It's hard to find anyone willing to openly discuss political issues," says Scott.

*HAVE BEARD, WILL INTERVIEW: The alleged leader of a vigilante group accused of attacking students at Tehran University seldom gives interviews to Western journalists. "We are at war with the West," says Massoud Dehmamaki. But reporter Michael Theodoulou managed to get one. "I think he trusted my interpreter, an Iranian PhD student," says Mike. Even so, it took a couple of visits to Mr. Dehmamaki's bunker/office to get the interview. "It's not something you set up over the phone. You have to show some presence and persistence," Mike says, adding that his Iranian-looking black beard of 15 years probably helped, too.


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