• Less Contact in Iraq: When correspondent Ann Scott Tyson returned to Iraq this week for the first time since last August, she was immediately struck by how much less freely US forces were moving about and interacting with Iraqis. In a city such as Mosul, where soldiers once made frequent foot patrols and even dined in local restaurants, today almost all patrols are by vehicle, with only brief stops. Along with an escalation of violence, the distance is due to a shrinking in the size of the US force here as well as a conscious decision to pull back from the city and hand off duties to Iraqi forces (page 1).
Still, Ann wanted to see a bit of Iraqi life and was relieved when she finally discovered a US military police unit that patrols the city every day. Catching a ride, she was able to get to downtown Mosul and see the bustling markets, a welcome respite from the tense house-to-house raids she's gone on the past two nights with US Stryker units in the area.
• Another Reason to Follow Soccer: Correspondent Ben Lynfield says that he's been struggling with a lack of rapport with sources lately. The problem: his own lack of interest and expertise in the Euro 2004 soccer championships. "I went to Gaza City Tuesday, and spoke to Ghazi Hamed, the editor of Al Risala, a Hamas-affiliated newspaper (page 7).
"He started talking to me about the quarter-final match between Greece and France," says Ben. "I mumbled something about England always losing at the close of the tournament, but didn't really have a clue about what he was talking about. Israelis and Palestinians are all watching the European soccer championship, and want to talk about it. I'm finding it tough to establish a rapport with sources on either side."
For the record: In the semifinals, underdog Greece plays the Czech Republic Thursday. The Netherlands plays Portugal Wednesday.
David Clark Scott