Reporters on the Job

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GREEN IS BEAUTIFUL: Eighty-five contestants from around the world are competing in Manila for the Miss Earth 2008 title. The pageant aims to bring attention to environmental issues.

Where Am I? Staff writer Mark Sappenfield has been reporting from Afghanistan for more than two years now. In that time he's been focused primarily on finding the Afghan perspective – trying to talk to Afghans about their opinions and experiences (see story).

"My mind-set when I am in Afghanistan is always to blend in as much as possible, not just in clothes but also in attitude, demeanor, etc. So going to Bagram Air Base for the interview with US Brig. Gen. Mark Milley was a bit odd," says Mark.

"Obviously, as a former Pentagon correspondent, I've been on an Army base before. But being on one in Afghanistan – and seeing a Pizza Hut delivery scooter in front of the snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush – made me feel like a computer that has just crashed. I couldn't compute what I was seeing," he says.

"It seemed so strange to me that here was a patch of Afghanistan where there weren't bearded men dressed in salwar kameezes leaning over wood fires making kebabs. The base almost felt more foreign to me than Afghanistan, given the setting."

Visiting the Methboubs: Since staff writer started reporting on the life of the Methboub family in Iraq in 2002, two daughters have married. So, the family is now spread out over three different locations. Each offers a window on the state of security in Baghdad. "The original home is in a neighborhood where there have been multiple car bombings. One of the daughters lives in a nearby neighborhood, that's a little safer and closer to the hospital. The family's newest apartment is in a safe neighborhood, but they're in jeopardy of losing it," says Scott. The family has to come up with $9,500 by Thursday to secure the release of a son in jail.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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