• SOUNDS OF SILENCE: The Monitor's Ilene Prusher says she has found Iraqis surprisingly willing to talk to reporters. But her story on kidnappings (this page) was a challenge. "I visited the homes of three families whom I was told had children kidnapped, had paid ransom, and had the children returned. None of them wanted to talk because the kidnappers had threatened to kill the family if they spoke to the police or to anyone else."
Ilene eventually found one woman willing to talk - but only because her grandson was sent away with his family when he was returned. "The situation was very sad. People are suffering economically - and then are expected to come up with exorbitant sums. People look at me and say things like, "This never happened before the Americans came."
• THE PEOPLE'S POOLS: Isabelle de Pommereau was struck by the plethora of pools (page 6) when she moved to Germany. She quickly became a regular at a huge state-run pool, complete with whirlpool and kiddie areas. Isabelle says the pools evoke a distinctly German focus on gesundheit - good health. "There are all sorts of books about swimming pools and their history and architecture. It's not just a sporting event - swimming is something for everyone."
Deputy world editor