Covering international beats is a cool but challenging gig, especially considering the void of interest in international relations endemic to the American public. Bringing compelling tales from or about foreign lands to the pages of local newspapers is a good vehicle to get people to shed their back yard mentality. Timothy O'Leary hopscotches the world in search of dramatic conflicts or radical change. In the last two years he's filed stories from Ireland, Greece, and India. His coverage of the most recent Mexican presidential election, including an appealingly sheepish column regarding his botched prediction that Vicente Fox would lose, brought simple analysis of the attitude of the Mexican people as seen from the ground. His columns are admirably free of self-indulgence and written in a traditional, accessible style. Sure, it's a good gig, traveling the world and filing an average of seven stories a year. But if done right, a good international columnist can bring to the readership a glimpse of life beyond U.S. borders, a sorely needed acknowledgement that Dallas is just a small part of a big world.