• SINGLE IN BAGHDAD: Most of the risks of reporting from the dangerous streets of Baghdad were well known to Kevin Begos - except one. No one had warned him about Iraqi women. In Friday's story, he discovered that a shortage of eligible bachelors is changing Iraqi society, and making him a hot commodity. "I was taken slightly by surprise by a pretty young woman wearing lip sparkle on one occasion," Kevin says. Another woman took an unusually close interest in the details of his family, asking about his mother, father, etc. "But it never happened in public places," he says. "There, women have to be very reserved."
It was probably just his imagination, Kevin notes, that the minister he interviewed at the Presbyterian church gave a 'I'll leave you two alone' look soon after he started interviewing the minister's daughter. "There certainly are a lot of beautiful women in Iraq," says Begos. "I think some of our troops who stay for long tours may not come home alone."
• PALESTINIAN CHECKPOINTS: For the first time in two years, Monitor reporter Nicole Gaouette encountered Palestinian police at checkpoints in Beit Jala. "It was striking because Israeli troops are normally stationed there," she says. The checkpoints looked improvised - hand-painted cardboard signs and tents for the gun-toting officials. Passage was remarkably easy, with a more laid-back inspection regime than under Israeli troops. "From the Israeli perspective, it was not as thorough. They weren't stopping everyone. But it is a start toward Palestinians taking charge of security."
David Clark Scott