Reporters on the Job

Coffins on the Highway: Tuesday's story about Najaf's gravediggers was prompted by the scenes staff writer Scott Baldauf has witnessed during his frequent trips from Baghdad to Najaf, in central Iraq. "On every trip, we'd see lines of cars with coffins strapped to the roof. We knew that cemetery in Najaf was where Shiites preferred to bury their dead. The Valley of Peace is one of the biggest cemeteries in the world. But we also knew that the cemetery was the locus of heavy fighting between the Mahdi Army and US forces. We wondered how a burial ground could continue as a battleground (this page)."

"I was struck by how businesslike the whole process was. The gravediggers' market is like any other market in Iraq. You haggle and arrive at a price," says Scott.

The 35-hour Work Week Fades: Correspondent Isabelle DePommereau arrived in Germany six years ago, after living in the United States for several years. She was surprised to see how family-oriented Germany was by comparison. "Fathers would be home for dinner every night by 6:30 p.m., and on Fridays they'd be home by 3 or 4 p.m.. But that's definitely changing, either by official policy or unofficially. Germans are working longer hours to keep their jobs or to keep their businesses afloat," Isabelle says (page 7).

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

Arab Idol: Ahmed Hassan, and millions of others, watched his son in the final round of "Superstar 2," a singing competition on a Lebanese TV satellite channel. Palestinian Ammar Hassan reached the final round by singing about the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation of the lands they claim. The political overtones are not lost on Arab viewers.

But Hamas, a violent Palestinian Islamic movement, released an angry statement: "Our people are in need of heroes, resistance fighters, and contributors to building the country and are not in need of singers, corruption mongers, and advocates of immorality." Superstar 2 began with 82 contestants 13 weeks ago. The final show will be Aug. 29.

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