• Watched by Snipers: Staff writer Scott Peterson says that the security arrangements made for a day trip from Baghdad to central Iraq - organized by the US Embassy for a small group of journalists - showed the levels of protection under which US officials work in Iraq.
Scott's visit to Najaf included two stops (this page), but required a lot of advance work so that Iraqi candidates were present when the US press group arrived. Security was provided by Blackwater Security Consulting, one of about 25 private contractors doing this kind of work in Iraq. The group flew to the area aboard US military helicopters, then were transported in bulletproof Suburban SUVs. "Security was very intense, and our schedule was timed to the minute," says Scott. "Snipers deployed to the rooftops whenever we stopped; it was as if we had our own Special Forces detail. But the Iraqis and American officials alike seemed accustomed to their presence," he says.
• Hand Signals: Correspondent Mark Rice-Oxley is intrigued by plans to make some roads in London a communal space where pedestrians and drivers would have "equal rights" (page 1). But he's not a believer yet. "I was pushing a stroller through one of these trial zones the other day," he says. "A BMW nearly collided with us. I pointed at the sign saying 'pedestrian priority.' The driver merely shrugged. I suspect that my kids learned a lesson of the road that will probably endure even in this brave new world of shared space: how to shake your fist at a motor vehicle."
David Clark Scott