Reporters on the Job

Sudan in Transition: Until the peace deal was signed this month - and except for a 10-year break - southern Sudan has largely been at war with the north since 1956. And belligerence seems infused in the culture. Staff writer Abraham McLaughlin spoke with three former child soldiers before settling on the one he profiled in today's story (page 1). "Each aspires to avenge his parents' death by killing northern Arabs. And as I watched dancers practicing for a peace celebration, they nearly came to blows over how to organize the dancing."

But later, while sitting in a church on Sunday, Abe also noticed one of those acts of kindness that can make all the difference. "An old man and a teenage boy were sitting on the bench in front of me," he says. "They didn't appear to be related. Midway through the service, the man pulled out a knit cap. He tried to put it on his head, but he had lost all of the fingers on both hands - perhaps from fighting in the war or from a land mine. He got the hat only partway on. It was sitting cockeyed on his head. A few seconds later the boy reached around behind and gave the hat a few careful tugs to move it into place. Then he gave the man a gentle pat on the head."

Death and Hope: While reporting today's story about candidate safety (page 1), staff writer Dan Murphy spent a few hours with a candidate from Sadr City in Baghdad. Sheikh Shaker Jabbar al-Saadi of the Constitutional Monarchy Movement told Dan that he was campaigning to stop Iraq's widening sectarian divisions. But last week, masked gunmen shot him. A spokesman for his party said the murder was part of a tribal dispute. "It seems that every day I know someone who's been killed, or know someone who knows somebody who's been killed,'' says Dan. "It's amazing, and heartening, that in the middle of this so many here are still expressing hope for the future."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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