• With the Troops in Iraq: Pentagon staff writer Gordon Lubold, now embedded with American forces in Iraq, has found his level of access surprisingly good. During his last visit to the field in 2004, he says that the media was seen by US officials as not only the messenger that the war was not going well – but part of the cause of the problem.
But Gordon finds the current leadership at the Pentagon and in Iraq are much more press-friendly. Before he embedded with US forces, he spent a week interviewing officials in Baghdad. From officers to enlisted men, the military seems eager to tell the story about what they're doing.
Currently with US Marines in Anbar Province (see story), Gordon has also been struck by the fact that the military bases have been built up a lot since he was here three years ago. "The cafeterias are huge and offer so much food," he says. And even reporters stay in air-conditioned trailers – some with Internet connections. "I don't know what it says about the US presence here, since even some service members grouse that it feels like an occupation when the military bases here are so big and offer so many amenities, but I'll take a reliable Internet connection anytime," he says.
And the food? "I could eat Baskin-Robbins ice cream every night if I wanted to."
• Brick by Brick: Reporter Joseph Schatz decided to do today's story about home building in Zambia (see story) when he noticed there were "all these unfinished houses everywhere. In the house next door to us, they'll put up a wall, then a couple more months will go by, and then erect another." In a country where less than 1 percent of the people have a bank loan, houses are built when money comes in. "It's not uncommon for a house to be in construction three, four, or five years," he says. But Joe has noticed that there are a lot more signs on the streets now advertising home loans.
– David Clark Scott