Reporters on the Job

• All in the Neighborhood: The strangest part of reporting today's story about Afghan politics (page 8), says Monitor staff writer Scott Baldauf, was finding out that the king's cousin, Houmayoun Assefy, lived across the street from the house where Scott was staying in Kabul.

"I got his mobile-phone number from one source, then called him for directions to his house," says Scott. "Twenty minutes later, we were driving up the same rocky dusty street that we usually take to go home. We had been neighbors for the past two weeks. Another neighbor is Gen. Mohammad Fahim, the defense minister. All the intrigue of the past few months was happening just steps from my front door."

• Perception Gap: Today's story about the gap between how the world sees Israel, and how Israel sees itself (this page) was triggered by a late-night phone call. "People here feel very vulnerable, despite their nation's economic and military strength, US support, and their upper hand over the Palestinians," says Monitor staffer Nicole Gaouette.

"I was talking with an academic source for another story I was working on, and we got onto the subject of anti-Semitism. By the end of our conversation, she was saying that she would do anything to get her children foreign passports because she feels Israel's future is insecure - particularly since the US entered Iraq and destabilized the region. What began as a formal interview turned into a very difficult call because she was obviously so distressed. It was a telling moment because it encapsulated a lot of the latent anxiety you hear here about Israel's place in the region and the world."

• Voting in Bogotá: Reporter Rachel van Dongen has covered elections in the states, but Colombia's mayoral vote this week (page 7) was a unique experience. "In the US, it's a solemn, workday event. Here it was a festive weekend event. To keep it from becoming too rowdy or violent, there's a ban on alcoholic beverage sales Thursday evening through Monday morning, and it's strictly enforced," she says. Less strictly enforced are the laws restricting campaigning at the polls. "Candidates hire street children to hand out propaganda. At one polling station, a woman came up to me, asked me if I'd voted yet, and tried to give me a card on who I should vote for."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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