• Didn't Have Far to Go: Staff writer Dan Murphy recently returned to Baghdad and stopped in at the heavily guarded Coalition Green Zone for a press briefing. He got an update on all the progress being made in rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure (page 1). He knew that wasn't the full story, and decided to look for some of Baghdad's unemployed to get their perspective on the changes.
But as he started the quarter-mile walk to the edge of the Green Zone perimeter he was asked by a soldier to stop and wait. "I was surprised because the soldiers are usually much more interested in keeping people out than in," says Dan. When asked what was going on, the soldier replied, "Oh, there's a riot outside."
A few minutes later the soldiers opened the gate to reveal a small group of demonstrators complaining about the economic pain of the new Iraq. "Coming out of a meeting that focused on how much things were getting better I walked straight into a reminder that so many here feel it's far from enough."
• Stars and Stripes in El Salvador: Correspondent Catherine Elton has covered elections in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and now El Salvador. In the case of the last two, she's been struck by how the region feels trapped in the cold-war past (page 7). The US government still has an influence over the outcome of political races. And the relationship is evident in the campaign symbols. "In the Nicaraguan elections in 2001, people brought American flags to the leftist party rallies, trying to send a message to the US and the people. Similarly, in the current Salvadoran elections, the Stars and Stripes has been spotted at the ARENA candidates rallies. I didn't see it at the rally I attended, but was told about it by reliable sources," says Catherine.
David Clark Scott