Reporters on the job

The Single Question Interview: Staff writer Scott Baldauf didn't quite know what to expect when he met Hassan al-Turabi - the Sudanese cleric once known for inviting Osama bin Laden to live in Sudan.

"I had expected the usual 30 minutes (no more, no less) of half-answers and evasions that one gets from politicians," says Scott. "Instead, Mr. Turabi gave me a glass of mango juice, a cup of strong coffee, and two hours of his time (see story).

"I think I only asked one question, but it didn't matter. Turabi directed the conversation to all the key points: Darfur, the war with southern Sudan, Osama bin Laden, Western music, his time in politics, the role of Islam in modern society.

"When I went out to the car I was renting," says Scott, "my driver, Hassan, had a smile on his face."

" 'Good interview?' " he asked. 'Hassan al-Turabi likes to talk.' "

Gone Ivory Shopping: This wasn't correspondent Rob Crilly's first trip to the market in Sudan where ivory is sold. He was there 18 months ago, doing another story on the trade in elephant tusks. "It was then that the government was giving lip service to a crackdown. Officials had just come around to tell the vendors that they had three months to get rid of their inventory of ivory. They'd be back after three months to buy up any remaining ivory," says Rob.

When he returned to report today's story (see story), the vendors told him that the government officials never returned. "I could see no visible difference in the amount of ivory for sale. Chopsticks and name seals were plentiful, I was told, because they are the most popular with Chinese shoppers. The only difference was that the ivory was a little less visible. They kept it in a drawer or in a box behind the counter," he says.

– David Clark Scott
World editor

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