Reporters on the Job

GETTING OUT THE (GLOBAL) VOTE: As the Monitor's Howard LaFranchi reports from Lima, Peru, today, Alejandro Toledo won the presidential election (page 1). But he didn't win everywhere. As Howard watched the official returns announced late Sunday night, he saw results tabulated from other countries. Expat Peruvians from Florida to Florence voted in the elections. Some 4,000 cast ballots in Washington, D.C.; 10,000 in Madrid. But in Japan (now home to former president Alberto Fujimori), Alan Garcia won. "Fujimoristas detest Toledo," explains Howard. The high international turnout, he says, doesn't necessarily reflect an inordinate devotion to democracy. "In Peru, voting is obligatory. If you don't vote, you either pay a $35 fine - steep for the majority of impoverished Peruvians - or you are barred from completing essential tasks with the state, like getting school records or business permits."

FREEDOM OF SPEECH: Monitoring the popular pulse of some countries in the Middle East can be difficult. People either spout the government line on issues or are very guarded about what they will say to foreign reporters. But Michael Theodoulou says, "Iran is one of the easiest countries in the region for a reporter to work in. People in the streets, of all political persuasions, talk to you freely [this page]." He's been to Iran every year since 1993 and credits President Mohamad Khatami with "creating a more open climate."


STARS, STRIPES, AND A MAPLE LEAF? Amid widespread concern that Canada is losing its cultural and economic independence to the United States, a new poll suggests that nearly 1 in 2 Canadians expects the country will be part of a North American union within a decade, the National Post (Toronto) reported yesterday. The survey found that 45 percent of respondents said Canada will form a union with its neighbor within 10 years.

David Clark Scott World Editor

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