Reporters on the Job

Nothing by Chance: Unsolicited comments by Mexicans who are afraid of being kidnapped, and a series of new public service ads on Mexican television and radio about preventing kidnapping, prompted staff writer Danna Harman to dig further into the topic. But how do you find families who have endured this crime and are willing to talk?

If they're that common, figured Danna, she'd just ask around. She went to the market in a poor neighborhood, and didn't get far at first. "I found two different victims, but they didn't want to talk about it. I went to the local police station, and no one there could suggest someone," she says. A block and a half from the police station, she found the brother of Mauricio, who had been kidnapped (page 1). "He told me his father wouldn't talk but his mother might. She spent three hours with me. But she wanted to know how I came to her door.

"When I explained, she said, 'Nothing happens by chance.' She was reaching for some hope that this story might help find her son," says Danna.

There Goes the Neighborhood: Baghdad may be large, but in every area there is no shortage of explosions, says staff Scott Peterson, whose hotel is in the south of the city.

Rockets have landed nearby in the past, apparently aimed at the Hamra Hotel complex, a short distance from the Monitor office. Sunday, a blast shook the Hamra at 7:30 a.m., where Scott does laps in the pool and pull-ups. He dashed to the roof, saw smoke rising from the nearest traffic circle. But traffic hadn't stopped. Colleagues drove around the area and told him that they saw nothing; Scott returned to his pull-ups.

But Sunday afternoon, says Scott, "I was just sitting down to my computer when a large blast nearby sent me grabbing for my cameras and racing for the roof. A mortar had landed in the garden opposite the building next door.

Some reporters say the Hamra was the target. Others, including Scott's Iraqi interpreter, suggest it could be connected to the arrival of a major US newspaper, which moved its Baghdad offices Sunday to a house closest to the blast, and is across the street from the Monitor bureau.

"I spent the rest of the afternoon writing [this page] in an interior room, away from the windows," says Scott.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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