• Diamonds in the Rough: Correspondent Nicole Itano says that she's never run into diamond smugglers or miners while on reporting trips in Congo. She did bump into a white South African who was staying in a hotel just over the border in Rwanda, who said he was "in the diamond business."
"He might have been a smuggler," says Nicole. "He was very vague about what he was doing. He was headed into the deep bush to collect diamonds.
"Colleagues have told me that refugees in Angola tried to sell them rough diamonds."
If Nicole were to buy a diamond, would she make sure it wasn't a conflict diamond? She's a bit conflicted herself over how discriminating to be. "I've seen the good that diamonds have done in Botswana. And I'm not sure there's too much consumers can do to ensure they're buying a conflict-free diamond. The certification process (page 7), only deals with rough diamonds, not those cut or polished. The country of origin certification doesn't follow the diamond through the cutting and polishing centers in Antwerp, Tel Aviv, India, or New York. Some Canadian diamonds are clearly distinguished as such. But in most retail stores, you can't ask for a Botswanan diamond and be sure that's where it came from."
• He Skipped Vedic Math: As a foreign correspondent in India, staff writer Scott Baldauf can't vote, nor does his journalistic integrity give him the luxury of choosing political sides. But as a father with a daughter entering the Indian school system this fall, he allows himself to express some relief at the change in curriculum being proposed by the new government (this page). "I had trouble enough getting through math myself. Helping my daughter with Vedic math would have been a challenge."
David Clark Scott