Reporters on the Job

HOUSE OF HORRORS: Fred Weir found Moscow's Institute of Paleontology a creepy place to research today's story on missing fossils (page 1). "It was a horror palace. Dank, musty, and full of creaking doors and echoing footsteps," he says. But the story itself was rather enlightening, says Fred.

"In a way, this article embodies many of the currents of change in Russian society over the past decade," he says, including the decline of the state, the plundering of state assets, and the rise of capitalism. "But both sides have sympathetic characters and a truth to tell," he adds, noting that the whistleblowing scientist is "a wonderful person who considers this businessman to be a barbarian." And the fossil dealer sees himself building a legitimate business by most countries' standards, but is being blocked by a scientist who he calls "a revenge-seeking communist" or "KGB agent."

A TALE RETOLD: The woman in the lead of Nicholas Blanford's story about the massacre at the Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon (page 7) has told her tale of tragedy many times over the years. Now she is part of a lawsuit aimed at indicting Israeli and Lebanese officials for crimes against humanity. "Last year, when Ariel Sharon was elected - and every year on the anniversary of the 1982 massacre - foreign and local journalists lined up for interviews outside the humble homes of the survivors. It's conveyor-belt journalism. It's rather macabre. But a lot of the survivors consider it their duty to tell their stories to anyone who will listen, to keep the memory alive," says Nick.


THE JESSE VENTURA FACTOR? In Japan, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ruling coalition won a majority of the seats in the upper house of parliament in elections yesterday. His celebrity status, reported in the Monitor July 27, was cited as one factor in the win.

A clutch of celebrities, including a TV personality, a soccer star, and a sumo wrestler, ran for office. Japanese pro-wrestler Atsushi Onita (below) was among those declaring victory yesterday, reports The Associated Press. Japan's rich and famous have long found the upper house an attractive way to break into politics.

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