Reporters on the Job

Observing Insurgents: Correspondent Nicholas Blanford had to be persistent to get some time with Maj. John Nagl, a guerrilla-warfare specialist with the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq. He sent numerous e-mails to the media contacts but was getting nowhere. So he finally decided to make his plea in person.

"I knew he was based at Camp Manhattan in Khaldiyeh, so I went and essentially knocked on the front barrier gate and handed over a note asking for an interview," Nick says.

Major Nagl soon appeared, and set up an interview. What happened? "My note said that I'd had experience reporting on guerrilla warfare in southern Lebanon," says Nick, who is based in Beirut. "I also mentioned that I'd interviewed an insurgent in Baghdad recently."

Nagl was clearly highly motivated about the work he does, Nick says, adding, "he was also pleased to compare notes on the insurgency."

Observing the Kremlin: Winston Churchill once said that watching Kremlin politics was like watching two dogs fighting under a carpet - you can't really tell what's going on.

That analysis came to correspondent Fred Weir's mind Tuesday as he learned of President Putin's decision to dismiss his prime minister. Fred, who has called Moscow home for 18 years, has had plenty of time to study the ways of Russia's leading men. "One thing that hurt former President Yeltsin was his penchant for firing his prime ministers. Putin may have refrained for a long time from firing Katsyanov only so he didn't look like Yeltsin."

But, Fred acknowledges, as has been the case with previous leaders, it's hard to know just yet what's going on.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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