Reporters on the Job

The Hairstyle Tells All: When the Monitor's Robert Marquand arrived in Beijing about 3-1/2 years ago, there was no mistaking the appeal of the punk look among China's younger crowd. "There were all sorts of 14- to 24-year-olds in platform shoes and miniskirts," says Bob. Internet cafes were a regular feature in the western part of the city, where the student population is high.

But that scene has changed. "They've shut down a lot of the New York-style rave bars," Bob says, "and the Internet cafes have been torn down for construction - and haven't reopened."

Perhaps the most telling sign of a growing conservatism (page 1) is the upscale coffee shop that Bob frequents. "For the past two years, the woman behind the counter has had this very purple hair that was always done up in very cutting-edge styles," says Bob. "But when I went there last week after an absence, she had a normal hairstyle - and the color was black."

New Look for Security: While reporting Friday's story on the latest suicide attack and the difficulties of recruiting Iraqis into the security services (page 4), the Monitor's Dan Murphy did notice something new. He's been out of Iraq for about six weeks, and in his absence Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) troops have begun limited foot patrols in the capital. Though the scene of the attack was swarming with US troops, there were also some ICDC troops being used to secure the area. "The US is nudging these guys closer and closer to the front lines," says Dan. "We'll start to find out if they're willing to stay there."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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