• A Professor's Pistol: Correspondent Nick Blanford in Baghdad says that it's becoming difficult to keep up with the pace of attacks in Iraq (page 1). This past weekend, "we had assassinations of government officials and a university professor, attempted assassinations against other officials, a suicide car-bomb explosion against Iraqi police, the slaying of hostages, mortar attack against the coalition headquarters, plus numerous resistance attacks against coalition troops," he says.
When Nick went to interview Saadoun al-Dulame, the head of the Iraqi Center for Research and Strategic Studies, the professor had just returned from a conference on the future of Iraq in Ramadi attended by 5,000 Sunni leaders. The conference was dominated by Islamists and tribal figures.
He told Nick that he, too, is concerned for his own safety because he comments on democracy. "Only in Iraq will you find a mild-mannered academic with an armed guard outside his office and an automatic pistol on his desk," says Nick.
• Breaking Taboos: Correspondent Faiza Selah Ambah has been reporting about Saudi Arabia for much of the past decade. But she has never seen this much excitement over the possibility of more rights for women (page 1). This past week, the kingdom's media rights board elected its first two women to the body. "I spoke to one, and she was thrilled. The other was on her way to cover the national conference on women's rights. That itself is a big deal. There are 35 women delegates who will be staying in a hotel. That breaks a Saudi taboo that women cannot stay in a hotel without a husband or male family member," says Faiza.
David Clark Scott