Today's Story Line

Remember the siege of Grozny? Officially, the Chechen capital was captured by the Russians in early February. An insurrection vanquished. Russia's military superiority upheld. But the Monitor's Scott Peterson finds soldiers and citizens living in fear, and the battle still raging (page 1).

David Clark Scott World editor


RAMADAN RETROSPECTION: Ramadan for Palestinians is normally a joyous month, says reporter Ben Lynfield, who's witnessed eight of the Muslim holidays. "There's quiet introspection, gift giving, family gatherings, and charity." But the joy is missing this year, says Ben, and what brought that home for him was a conversation with a friend who is a Palestinian Islamic historian. "He's normally not politically involved, and he has worked with Israeli scholars. But when I went to extend best wishes for the holiday, he was totally depressed," says Ben. The historian surprised Ben by saying that "the Jews are treating us the way the Nazis treated them." Ben says, "It showed me the depth of the wounds."

PASSPORTS FOR SALE: After a decade of anarchy, Somalia is setting up a government. But reporter Mike Crawley, a Canadian, heard that the government still does not control the issuing of Somali passports. He decided to test the rumor. "I went with two BBC journalists into Bakara market, where for $30 we each had a photo taken and were given a nice green-covered passport with all the official stamps and official-looking signatures," he says. The man running the photo-studio-cum-passport office said he got the old stock from kids who stole the passports from the former immigration department. He told Mike that with no government around to issue passports, he felt that he was doing a service for his fellow Somalis in need of a travel document. For Mike, it's a souvenir. "When I asked him why he was willing to issue one to me, he said: 'We know it's wrong, but we are hungry.' "

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