Reporters on the Job

NO PICTURES, PLEASE: Reporter Scott Baldauf and photographer Robert Harbison had difficulty getting a full picture of the life of the Afghan boy in today's story (page 1).

They were allowed to interview him and photograph him at his school, but no more. Their government-assigned Taliban interpreter suddenly became very strict, following his arrest on Sept. 10, when he was thrown in jail for 12 hours. The government had all interpreters briefly arrested, because some had allowed photographers to take pictures of foreign aid workers being tried for proselytizing.

The next day, Bob and Scott followed the boy home from school. On the way, the boy stopped at a playground. "Bob tried to shoot photos of him on the merry-go-round, but our translator wouldn't let him even go out to the park with his cameras because of the danger of being arrested by Taliban religious police," says Scott. "On the following day, the interpreter wouldn't even let Bob take his camera out of the bag."

Bob took the picture of the woman beggar on the front page before their government interpreter became jittery. It's far from an unusual sight, says Bob. "Outside one restaurant we went to several times, there's a small hoard of women (seven or eight). They're just desperate. Most of the women aren't just sitting; most come up to you. Some carry babies, thrust a hand out, and the use the five or six English words they know: 'You give me five rupies, my daughter, my daughter' or 'My son.... Please, you give me money. ' "

A TRIP TO THE PARK: Monitor staff writer Nicole Gaouette went to a park in Jerusalem with her toddler daughter, shortly after filing today's story (this page). It's the Rosh Hashana holiday, so the park was full of adults and children. Nicole put her handbag down, about a foot away from her, to help her daughter on the playground slide.

"In the course of a few minutes, six different people asked me if the bag was mine," she says. "People are still nervous about bombs. There's talk about a breakthrough truce with the Palestinians, but on the streets of Israel, faith in that is slim at best."

- David Clark Scott

World editor


A TRIP TO THE PARK: Two-thirds of people in Pakistan think their government should side with Afghanistan rather than the US if Washington attacks the neighboring country, said a snap Gallup poll taken of 500 people. In 27 out of 29 countries where this global survey was carried out by Gallup International, majorities opposed a military strike, reported Agence France Presse.

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