HANGING OUT: The Monitor's Danna Harman tried to get an interview with Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe for today's story (page 1), without success. "The government basically sees the media - and whites in the media even more so - as their enemies. So, after all my requests for interviews were put off, I decided to just go over to the ZANU-PF party headquarters and hang around. Despite all their official hate talk about whites, the ZANU-PF people were very polite toward me.
I sat there for hours, the only white person in a 15-floor building with everyone staring at me - and really was treated well. An old man tried to offer me a seat. A secretary asked me for my e-mail address so we could correspond. Someone gave me ZANU-PF T-shirts for me and my family. After some time, I got chatting with the assistant of the secretary general of the war veterans who then brought me into his boss and then one thing led to another and finally I started meeting top people to interview."
BEHIND THE LINES: When Lutfullah Mashal arrived near the front lines of the battle (page 1), he was told that foreign journalists were not allowed into the area. The US forces and Afghan fighters were taking on Al Qaeda fighters in the Zarmat District and Shahi Kot valley. But Mashal is an Afghan, who is familiar with the locals and the terrain. He found a way behind the lines. "I jumped in a four-wheel drive Toyota pickup truck that was going my way, and was able to proceed to Shahi Kot valley, through a dusty and muddy road south west of Gardez."
- David Clark Scott
MORGAN TZVANGIRAI: The last name of the founder of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is pronounced "SVAHN-geer-eye." A teetotaler and non-smoker, he is challenging Robert Mugabe for the presidency this weekend (page 7).