• The Campaign Train: Traveling by firstclass sleeper car is always a pleasant experience, says Fred Weir. And indeed, the train he took back to Moscow from Ukraine, where he was observing the run-up to this weekend's elections, adhered to the usual high standards of comfort. But if Fred had any doubt about the political preferences of those operating the state-owned railroad, they were cleared up the moment he boarded.
"The entire car was festooned with posters for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich," Fred says. When he got to his compartment, he was greeted by a poster of President Bush, along with the caption: "Yushchenko [the opposition candidate] is my choice." The message, says Fred, was simple: Yushchenko is an agent of Western imperialism.
"I don't know if it was coincidence that Bush was on my door," Fred says. He wanted to keep the poster, but the car attendant refused. Still, it seemed she was weary of her car being used as a campaign platform. "She brought tea into my compartment, and asked where to put it. I pushed aside pro-Yanukovich literature on the night table so it wouldn't be used as a coaster, but she said, no, that's all it's good for."
• The Long Way Round: To get back from Zwedru in eastern Liberia to the capital Monrovia (page 4), correspondent Mike Crawley flew on a UN plane, a little four-propeller Dash 7. Mike says he noticed that the plane was from Canada, with a Canadian crew and Canadian registration. So how did it get to Liberia?
"It traveled the long way round, the flight attendant told me," Mike says. "From its base in Toronto, it flew to Goose Bay in Labrador, then to Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Mauritania, and finally to Liberia. The plane even operates under Canadian transport safety rules, and the flight attendant had to make a safety announcement even though no one else on the plane - a troop of Ethiopian peacekeepers - understood English."
Deputy world editor