• Machismo in Afghanistan : During his two weeks of reporting in Afghanistan, Asia editor Ben Arnoldy was in two collisions and had three flat tires.
"No one was hurt in the minor 'bumps,' though a motorcyclist who hit our car did fall over onto the pavement. I quickly decided to ignore my interpreter who told me that if you wear a seat belt in Afghanistan you are seen as a coward," says Ben.
"When the tire on our little Toyota Corolla blew out on an unpaved construction detour on the road from Kabul to Sorobi, I was a bit concerned about our remote location. But our misfortune became a journalistic opportunity as we soon came across a small roadside shop that sold soda, candy, and tire-patching services," he says.
Ben's interpreter knew that he was looking for local opinion about the construction project being carried out by Chinese workers (page 1). He suggested that while the tire was getting fixed they talk to the group of men lounging in the shop. "We got an earful about the lack of jobs and the struggles the men had just to feed their families," says Ben.
• Russians Fear Famine: The Moscow Times reports that when asked to pick from a list of 20 threats faced by Russia, 70 percent of those surveyed by the state-controlled VTsIOM polling agency chose "famine."
When asked to pick a threat to their personal safety, 36 percent first selected "a terrorist attack on a strategic facility." This was followed by fear of depopulation (33 percent), and fear of famine (30 percent). Critics said the "greatest fears" list was misleading, because it didn't include "crime," a category that ranks high in other polls.
David Clark Scott