• Meeting Eduard Limonov: Correspondent Fred Weir says that he's followed Russian politician Eduard Limonov's career since he returned to Russia in the early 1990s. But this was the first time he's interviewed him (see story); very few journalists seem to actually make the effort to do that.
"He was extremely amused when I told him about the Canadian anarchist blog, which cleverly quotes a slew of Moscow-based journalists defining him as everything from one end of the political spectrum to the other," says Fred.
He cleared that up: He's a classical left-winger, at least nowadays.
"He's by far the most colorful character on the Russian political landscape, and I suspect he owes that to the years he spent in New York and Paris," says Fred. "He obviously learned the value of political street theater as a way of attracting attention, even if his activists pay a high price for it. He has a way of talking in quotable sound bites, where most Russian politicians are unbearably long-winded and circuitous. And he was quite mild and likeable, not at all the fire-breathing monster he's depicted to be in some quarters.
• Two Sides of Ecuador: While reporting today's story about loans for Ecuador's poor (see story), Latin America editor Matthew Clark saw several instances of the "cultural divide" between Ecuadoreans. People from the mountains say costeñas like to party more than work. People on the coast say mountain people are uptight, cold, and overly formal. "While riding a bus to the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, high up in the Andes, I saw an argument that highlighted the prejudices. A passenger got on the bus and quickly began to argue with the conductor about the price. Before long he shouted: 'It's because you're from the coast!' followed by a few mumbled expletives."
– David Clark Scott
• News from the Center for Cartoon Studies: At press time it was unclear whether the first class of comic artists to graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) would receive a degree. (See "For cartoon-college grads, future is hard to sketch," May 11.) While their degree status is still up in the air, last month CCS, in White River Junction, Vt., received the news that it had been approved to grant two-year master of fine arts degrees. The class of 2009 will be the first to be eligible. Meanwhile, CCS is looking into retroactive degrees for '07 and '08 graduates.
– Teresa Méndez