Reporters on the Job

Bumpy Road Trip: Staff writer Scott Baldauf visited the Afghan town of Torkham, (located about 100 miles east of Kabul or a day's drive), to report part of today's story about the 5,700 candidates competing in Sunday's parliamentary and local elections. But his journey there was discouraging.

"Last June, I traveled the road from Kabul to Torkham, and a Chinese company had started to rebuild the road. I was shocked to see that long sections of the road were already ripped up," says Scott. "A steady flow of traffic of heavily loaded trucks coming from Pakistan had left deep ruts. Engineers blame the heavily loaded trucks, and the fact that Afghanistan has no weighing stations to prevent overloading of freight. But others say the Chinese company simply didn't lay down enough asphalt, and didn't prepare the ground underneath. Whatever the truth," he says, "it is discouraging to see cars leaving the road to drive alongside the 'new' highway for a smoother ride, just like during Taliban days."

Cuba's View of Ortega: While reporting today's story about Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, staff writer Danna Harman spent three days on the campaign trail with one other reporter, a TV journalist from Cuba. Most in the US see Mr. Ortega as a communist or leftist. But the reporter told Danna that she, and most Cubans, consider Ortega's 'revolution' rather weak tea. "The reason Ortega isn't doing better in the polls, she told me, was that he wasn't left enough. She was bewildered, and disappointed, with Ortega's good relations with the Roman Catholic church (which plays well in Nicaragua) and she thought all the music and free bandannas were unnecessary. Fidel Castro, she said, just talks revolution, and that's enough to entertain the masses."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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