• Rebuilding in Remote Afghanistan: Correspondent Danna Harman says that she found it "a little bit sad" to see the disconnect between effort and goodwill and results as she accompanied a Provincial Reconstruction Team as it went to a remote village in northeastern Afghanistan recently (see story).
"The guys on the PRT team I spent time with were each and every one impressive," Danna says. "Here they were, far away from home, in difficult conditions for close to a year. They talk about, and work to help, Afghans day in and day out. And yet, it is far from clear how quickly anything is being achieved, and how much their efforts were appreciated by those they were trying to help. I think, despite all their talk about telling grandchildren they helped build a school here or a road there, they realize this, and it is hard for them, too."
• Ring in the Holiday: Correspondent Ben Quinn bemoans the fact that cellphones are creeping into every crevice of life, including the formerly ring-free zones of subway networks. Few places, he writes, offer a chance to escape the beeping, buzzing, and chatter of the phone.
This week, when Ben corresponded with an editor about the story, he mentioned he was away from London for the holidays. Ben apparently failed to recognize the irony contained in a line from his e-mail message: "I'm sitting in front of a log fire on the west coast of Ireland tonight. But, as always, am reachable on the cellphone."
– Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor