Reporters on the Job

Beach views: In reporting today's story on the aftermath of a racially sparked riot in Cronulla, Australia, in December, staff writer Ben Arnoldy says that it quickly became apparent that the Muslim community feels embattled.

"Many people turned down requests for interviews," Ben says. "One young man walked by staff photographer Andy Nelson, who had received permission to take photos of a mosque, and muttered, 'What did we do this time?' "

Ben says that someone then drove by and yelled "Leb" at a woman wearing a head scarf. And at a food stand in Cronulla, a woman made an unsolicited offer to bring a bat to the beach, "if it would help."

But many white Australians expressed shame over the rioting and deemed it "un-Australian," Ben says - and several Muslim leaders who run Islamic websites mentioned receiving apologies or positive interest following the violence.

Piquant Opinion: In Manila, correspondent Don Kirk went to a book launch - for a cookbook - but got served up a good sample of opinion about Philippine President Gloria Arroyo. One upper-class woman said she was sick of politics - matching the sentiments Don heard from average people on the street. One man, who had been in the Marcos government, told Don he was sympathetic with the military firebrands who think they periodically have to steady the government. "He said he admired them because they were young and idealistic. But he added that he was glad he wasn't part of the political scene anymore," says Don. "For the most part, people seemed pretty disgusted with politics - and the familiar story of corruption and backstabbing."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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