Reporters on the Job
• Hunting a Shebaa Farmer: Correspondent Nicholas Blanford found that today's story on the Shebaa Farms gave him an opportunity to visit a part of Lebanon he had not seen for more than seven years. In fact, he hoped to visit the last family of Shebaa farmers.
After Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in May 2000, it was possible to reach the edge of the Shebaa Farms by following a dirt track until it reached an old Israeli military patrol road. At the end of the road was one of the 14 Shebaa Farms, the only one on the Lebanese side of the line and the only one still active. "The family there lived a very primitive existence, inhabiting stone hovels with no electricity nor running water. They were a very tough family, but were forced to leave in 2001 when fighting between Hezbollah and Israel killed a bunch of their goats and life on the front line became too hazardous," he says.
On this trip, the Indian UN peacekeeping soldiers with Nick told him as they traveled down the old military road that the family had moved back to their farm after the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. "I was hoping to meet them, but unfortunately, they had traveled to Shebaa village, about an hour's drive away, to stock up on provisions," he says.
• Unpatriotic: Staff writer Carol Huang says she was so fascinated watching an elite team of Chinese cheerleaders perform that she almost forgot that the New England Patriots cheerleaders are something of a phenomenon, too. The NFL team's cheerleaders were imported to Beijing to act as consultants to the 400 Olympic cheerleaders in training. "Under different circumstances – when there weren't 80 young Chinese women mixing hip-hop and pep-squad moves with nunchucks and fans – I would have appreciated the encounter with semicelebrity sooner," she says.
– David Clark Scott