Reporters on the Job

A WIDER AUDIENCE: Reporter Nicholas Blanford says he expects a general hostility toward the United States in the poorer areas of Beirut (page 1). But the anger welling up among more urbane Lebanese - many of whom travel widely and have family in the US - is new. "These are people who have a natural affinity in many respects for the US," Nick says.

A year of difficulties obtaining visas and hassles at points of entry into the US has taken a toll. And stories are on the rise about students attending US universities who are not being allowed to reenter the US after a trip back home to Lebanon. "People are getting very annoyed at what they perceive as increasingly racist attitudes toward Arabs. Arabs place a lot of emphasis on pride, and this is denting their pride."

A trip to American University in Beirut drives home the point. "It could be any US university - the dress is similar, the language is English," Nick says. "It's a bastion of well-educated, middle-class Lebanese, and there's a palpable increase in anti-American hostility."

A MOVING CAMPAIGN: It's a sign an election is just around the corner in Taipei (page 7). Poll workers in the form of ladies with bright yellow jackets and big hair pour onto the streets, says reporter Jadd Cheng, ready to hand out tokens of appreciation from the candidates: handy packs of tissues.

Who knows if such a gift will sway a potential voter. But backing up the women in the battle for hearts and minds are workers on motorcycles and trucks. They race around playing tapes of candidates' messages: "Baitou, baitou, baitou - please, please, please," intone the disembodied voices of the hopeful future leaders. The lack of substance doesn't seem to bother residents. Nor does the volume. "People take it for granted that the campaigns are noisy," Jadd says. "They have a high tolerance for noise."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor

Cultural snapshot
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