• Cuban Care in Caracas : Staff writer Danna Harman was able to see first-hand why the Cuban doctors working in Venezuela are so effective at creating goodwill between the two countries. "I was very impressed by the Cuban doctors and gym teachers and what they are doing for the poor neighborhoods," says Danna.
Critics charge that the doctors are not really doctors but only medics or nurses, she says. "That may be true, but they are right there in the neighborhoods, they know the community, and they are paying attention to people's problems, which is enough, in many cases, for people to feel better," she says.
For example, Danna was feeling ill and went to a private hospital in Caracas this week. "I waited for almost two hours and was confronted by a rude receptionist and an unfriendly doctor, who told me I needed to go see a specialist - and then charged me a lot of money.
"I wished I'd just gone back to the barrio and checked in with the Cuban medic I'd interviewed for today's story (page 1). At least she would have made me feel better psychologically, even if she didn't actually solve the problem.
"The critics may be right about President Hugo Chávez's antidemocratic tendencies, but it's hard to dismiss the effect these Cuban workers are having on the poor. I'm not surprised that Chávez's popularity has risen," she says.
• Climbing the Walls in Baghdad: For security reasons, many news organizations in Baghdad limit their reporters' movements. They spend inordinate amounts of time confined to a house or a hotel room. To keep morale up and a sense of balance in their lives, some have built gyms with treadmills or weight machines in a back room. Staff writer Scott Peterson, a serious rock climber, self-financed and built a modest plywood climbing wall in his hotel room. "It keeps me from going stir-crazy," he says.
David Clark Scott