• Drinking in Russia: Correspondent Fred Weir admits that he was "Russianize" when he first moved to Moscow. "I thought that Soviet men wouldn't trust you unless you drank vodka with them," says Fred. But in the last decade, he has reformed his drinking habits. "It's the most self-destructive lifestyle you can image. The life expectancy of a Russian male is 58 or 59 years. And it is mostly men who drink," he says. "If you go to a party here, you'll notice that the men will drift to the kitchen and start drinking seriously. The women go to the living room and talk about culture or families."
Today's story was prompted in part by the obvious rise in beer drinking (this page). "If you walk around any Russian city, you see loads of people on the street with a beer in hand - almost as many females as males. It's treated like a Coca-Cola. I've never seen this kind of mass public consumption of alcohol in any other country," says Fred.
• Politeness Prized: Between inqusitive journalists and families wanting to adopt him, Italian pensioner Giorgio Angelozzi has been deluged with phone calls and interview requests (page 1). But he decided to talk to correspondent Sophie Arie because, he said, she was more courteous than most. "He appreciated the fact that I was polite when I called, and asked him if I could bring a photographer," she says.
Upon arriving, Sophie was struck by his state of poverty. "The stories I'd read hadn't conveyed that he lived in a small garage and couldn't afford to eat much. In retrospect, I wish that I'd brought him some food," she says. He complained about multiple visits by television camera crews, but did seem to enjoy the company. And as Sophie and the photographer were leaving, Mr. Angelozzi gave each a parting gift: a line from Horace, the ancient Roman poet. "My line was something like: 'As you walk forward in life, may a flower grow in each footstep.' "
David Clark Scott