Today's Story Line

Seven decades and counting. The ruling party in Mexico has never lost a presidential election. But this time the race is extremely close.

Iranians elected a bevy of young reformers to their parliament. But will they be able to cope with the current challenges from conservative clerics?

Many Americans know the Solomon Islands because of the World War II battle at Guadalcanal. There's another conflict there now, one that mirrors ethnic tensions on other Pacific Islands.

David Clark Scott World editor


ZIM JAM: Reporter Ross Herbert discovered Zimbabwe's passion for hoops while staying at the Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel. He and an American journalist working for The Boston Globe were chatting with the towering doorman, Fortune Sithole, and learned he played basketball in a league. The Globe reporter "started talking trash, challenging him to a game." Mr. Sithole graciously showed them around the Bulawayo basketball scene and took up the challenge. Ross planned to participate, but "I got engrossed with talking to the women on the sidelines," he says. The Globe reporter? He was served Zimbabwean humble pie.

BUG JUICE MELTDOWN: To contact members of the Isatabu Freedom Movement in the Solomon Islands, reporter Shawn Donnan expected a hike into the bush. "I brought some extra strength mosquito repellent to keep away malarial squeeters. But it was so strong it ate up plastic, and my pens seemed to be melting in my hands," he says. In the end, meeting the guerrillas was just a matter of two short cab rides from downtown Honiara. One cab driver would only go as far as the first police checkpoint. The second driver, from another island, had nothing to fear from either side in the conflict and took Shawn the rest of the way. Total cost: $3.50.

SATELLITE PHONE BLUES: Working in Iran with a malfunctioning satellite phone, the Monitor's Scott Peterson spent almost as much time trying to send the story to Boston as he did writing it. First, he tried to e-mail it from his hotel room. Bad line. Then, he tried the hotel telephone operators' room. Scratchy lines. He tinkered with the baud rates. An hour later, Scott went to the offices of a local Internet service provider in Tehran. He tried to get a Compuserve node in the US. No go. More adjustments with settings. Calls to Jordan and Lebanon. Nothing. Finally, he got through at 9600 baud to Turkey. "The marriage of high tech and the developing world can be a frustrating union," sighs Scott.

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