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Reporters on the Job

Presidential Library : It wasn't the book selected, or that it was free, or even the possible political agenda behind it. When staff writer Danna Harman asked Venezuelans about the 1 million copies of Don Quixote handed out (page 1), people wanted to tell her that they were eager to have a library of their own. "If you go into the home of a poor family, you'll see a TV and video games, but you don't see books. Many people I spoke with saw this as the beginning of a personal collection of books and they were excited about that," she says.

The government plans to follow the Cervantes classic with a series of fine literature freebies, including "Les Misérables" and "Romeo and Juliet."

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Has Danna read Don Quixote?

"I'm embarrassed to say I haven't. But when I got home I bought a copy on Amazon. I guess you could say I'm another beneficiary of Venezuela's literature campaign," she says.

Street Convenience : In Harare, Zimbabwe, like many places in Africa, when you pull up to a stoplight in a car, you're immediately surrounded by hawkers, usually 20 to 30-year-old men offering everything from CDs to super-glue to hats to maps to umbrellas. And if they don't have what you want, they'll whistle to a buddy across the street who probably does.

"It's the ultimate in drive-by convenience - and in individual entrepreneurial spirit," says staff writer Abraham McLaughlin. "When I was in Harare covering the elections in March, I had to constantly buy 'recharge cards' to use my cellphone. But it was only a minor hassle because the hawkers were everywhere. Now this may have changed with President Robert Mugabe's latest crackdown (page 7).

David Clark Scott
World editor