• Fast friends: As staff writer Howard LaFranchi was doing interviews for his story on Iraqi Imam Moqtada al-Sadr (page 1), he noticed a pint-sized listener with big ears. The boy, Hussein, was interested in the conversation Howard was having with a group of men who had just worshiped at the mosque in Najaf. The young fellow kept weaving his way through the group of taller males to get a front-row spot. The men kept shooing him away, but Hussein persisted in coming back. Finally one of the men threw him out, leaving the curious boy in tears.
"I thought of my young son Gabriel, who sometimes reacts with equally tearful mortification when older siblings reject him. So I stopped the interview, parted the crowd, and called Hussein back. He hesitated, then quickly ran to my side, beaming. No one touched him again, and he continued to listen to the interview."