Reporters on the job

• AN INTERVIEW AND A PROPOSAL: Reporter Nicole Veash found that Egyptian singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim (page 1) doesn't suffer from celebrity coyness. While the interview was taking place, the singer's mobile phone - which appropriately enough trills to one of his hit records - rang repeatedly.

It was his eldest daughter. It seemed the Shaaban family was going through a personal crisis following the publication of a photo showing the singer arm-in-arm with a glamorous actress. "Your mother knows that after five children I'm incapable,' he said, seemingly unbothered by Nicole's presence. 'Nothing happened between me and that woman.

But that didn't stop Shaaban from turning on the charm. As Nicole was saying her goodbyes, Shaaban glibly proposed. "Would you like to become Wife No. 2?" he asked. "Islam allows me to have four, you know."

"I told him, 'Don't you think you should square things with Wife No. 1? After all the problems that you're having with the actress and everything....' "

'Maybe you're right. But my wife wouldn't object if I married a nice English girl. It's the Egyptian women that she doesn't like."

• A WELCOME MAT IN SUDAN: In Khartoum, Sudan for today's story on US peace efforts (page 7), Danna Harman was surprised by the official and unofficial attitude toward the US. "Almost everyone I encountered told me they had put their names in the lottery for a green immigration card, and many street hawkers yelled, 'We love America!' when I passed."

Part of the reason I thought they would be more extremist, more anti-American was what I had learned when visiting southern Sudan on another trip, and what I had read in the media. The government, eager to change that image, has hired a British public relations firm. "You can't sit down anywhere without some British guy coming out of the woodwork with a small package of papers explaining why the US is 'in the wrong' on one matter or the other, and how much the north - but not the south - wants peace."

• NOT CHASING SOURCES: For reporters working in Kabul, the norm is to wait for Afghan officials for hours on end. But in Khost, Philip Smucker found officials were coming to him. Both the governor and minister of tribal affairs in Khost Province walked into Phil's guesthouse seeking a meeting, "because they wanted to be sure we had the story (page 1) right." Phil was happy to comply. He arranged for a meeting over a dinner of fresh mutton from the local market.

- David Clark Scott

World editor

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