Reporters on the Job

China Underground: Correspondent Geoff Pingree has been visiting Spain for the past 15 or 20 years. But Tuesday's story was a revelation for him. "Like most Spaniards, I have walked through the Plaza de España hundreds of times. It's a central plaza in Madrid, with a big fountain and statues of Don Quixote and a Spanish monarch. Youths go there at night to make out. It's a Spanish icon," says Geoff.

What's striking is what he discovered underneath this quintessentially Spanish spot (this page). "Down a set of stairs that leads to an underground parking garage is another world. If you go left, down a long corridor lit by fluorescent lights, you'll find an all-Chinese world of stores, restaurants, and cafes. Everyone is speaking Mandarin, and the signs are in Mandarin with Spanish underneath," he says. "In the five hours I was there, I saw four Spaniards, and hundreds of Chinese. It's Spain on top and China underneath," says Geoff.

Back to Rabin's Days: Tuesday's story about the growing rhetoric by far-right Israelis branding Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a "Nazi collaborator" for his plan to pull troops out of Gaza (page 1), stirred some memories for correspondent Ben Lynfield.

"Shortly before [Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin was assassinated, a poster came out that depicted him in an SS uniform. Many believe that this poster was produced by a Shin Bet agent who was later revealed to have penetrated the far right and established his own organization. Today, some on the right insist that the Shin Bet [the Israeli domestic intelligence service] was responsible for Rabin's death."

Ben notes that no one is tying the criticism of Sharon to the Shin Bet.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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