Reporters on the Job

• WEST BANK WELCOME MAT: On his way to Askar, a Palestinian refugee camp, to report today's story (page 1), Ben Lynfield was stopped at a checkpoint near Nablus and had to walk the rest of the way on foot. Since the Palestinians were under curfew, most were in their homes the streets were empty.

Hospitality is a big part of Arab culture, and Ben says he is often treated well when he is in the home of Palestinians. But this was the first time the hospitality extended to the streets. "People came out and gave me water and a piece of watermelon. They would call out: 'Come up for tea; come up and join us.' A little girl came over from her family's property and gave me a rose. I'm still a little puzzled why everyone was so nice."

Ben speculates that having been cooped up for the past month, "this seemed to be their way of reclaiming the street: 'The Israeli soldiers can put us under curfew, but we can still be hospitable to guests.' "

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• A RUSSIAN LENS : "Everything I read about Kaliningrad (this page) stressed what a cesspool of crime, corruption, poverty and AIDS it is," says reporter Fred Weir. "That seems to be European picture of the area." But Fred lives in Moscow. "By Russian standards, it's a really nice region. Yes, they have problems, but their average wages are higher than in other parts of Russia. People drive foreign cars, the supermarkets are much better stocked than in most of Russia's provincial cities, people are well dressed, and you don't see beggars in the streets. Yes, there are some real horror stories in Russia, but Kaliningrad isn't one of them."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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