Reporters on the Job

OUT THE DOOR, INTO A STORY: Working conditions in sweltering Iraq may be difficult, says Monitor correspondent Scott Peterson, who has just returned to Baghdad. But finding stories couldn't be easier.

Monday's article - about Iraqis increasingly inclined to believe wild stories about US military misdeeds - grew from the first Iraqi Scott interviewed.

Scott had been driving around, searching for two protests that never materialized. He ultimately arrived at the main gate of the presidential palace compound, home to the US-appointed administrators. Riad Fadel Hamza was there, complaining of electrical shocks he had allegedly received at the hands of US soldiers.

That story reminded Scott of a similar - but true - case in Somalia. That led him to the US military legal team. Following up on the shooting death of two Iraqi protesters led to the mystery of the gunshot wound to the head. And so on....

"To find a story in Iraq these days," Scott says, "one need only wake up in the morning, and step out the door."

IN FULL BLOOM: Colin Woodard has covered marine issues extensively. But what he saw while reporting Monday's story on pollution in the Baltic Sea took even him by surprise. A stroll down an embankment on the west side of the harbor in Tallinn, Estonia, confronted him with an enormous algae bloom.

"The whole shore was covered in a thick, putrid, sludgelike carpeting that extended five to six yards out," Colin says. "It's not often you're able to see something like that without looking at it from an airplane. Usually blooms discolor the water, but it's not that noticeable."

The good news, Colin says, is that the Baltic will probably be one of the beneficiaries of European Union expansion. Estonia, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, which will join the EU next year, will have to meet EU standards in wastewater discharge and industrial pollution - and are likely to get aid to do so.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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