Reporters on the Job

• TIMING IS EVERYTHING: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf and his interpreter, Lutfullah Mashal, didn't go to Khost, Afghanistan, to investigate Operation Condor (page 1). But when they walked into the office of Soor Gul, the Khost security chief, he looked at them, smiled, and said: "You are a very fortunate man, Mashal. Every time you come here, there's a big story." Scott and Mashal decided to go talk to the villagers about the events described by Mr. Gul. But they didn't have to go far. "While we were interviewing the governor, the eyewitnesses came to us," says Scott. "They had come to complain to the governor. Afterward, one village elder asked me: 'Can you please file your story tonight? We don't want to be bombed again.' "

• CAMPING IN ANGOLA: Reporter Nicole Itano traveled to Quibaxe, Angola, (page 7) with a UN team and an army escort on roads that had just been demined. There was no place for the nearly 80 team members to stay, so they camped out in old buildings. "I had to borrow a sleeping bag," says Nicole. Food in this area of Angola was more plentiful than expected. Nicole had come prepared to live on a diet of biltong (a South African dried meat similar to beef jerky) and peanut butter.

• CHARISMA BEHIND BARS: Dan Murphy has interviewed East Timor's president, José Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmão (this page), more than once, and "he is always charming," says Dan. He was reminded of their first meeting at Cipinang prison in Jakarta several years ago. Xanana had charmed all the Indonesian guards, so much so that one of the guards tried to sell Dan a pro-Xanana T-shirt. "He's a huge soccer fan. While in prison, he organized intra-prison matches, which he played in with other political prisoners. He has a great human touch," says Dan.

– David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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