Reporters on the Job

• STREET LEVEL: Before embarking on her story about street children in Ukraine (Page 1), Arie Farnam was warned against talking to the children. "A chorus of social workers and journalists – even those who champion the rights of homeless children – kept telling me: 'Those kids lie and steal – it's ingrained in their nature,' " Arie recalls. What Arie found was that the conditions these children live in are so harsh that survivors quickly learn that hardness, shrewdness, and aggressive self-interest pay dividends on the street, while any sign of sensitivity or vulnerability is extremely dangerous. Still, the mean streets have not rendered them all heartless. Denis, the teenage ringleader of one group of children, struggled to take care of his younger brother. Arie says that when she brought oranges to the children, several older boys ripped the bag out of her hands, stuffed most of the fruit in their pockets and ran away. Denis grabbed just two oranges, but an older boy tackled him and took one away. "I was in awe then when Denis handed his orange to his little brother, who was too small to get any himself."

• TENSE AIRWAVES: While researching the current wave of anger over the Israeli military offensive in Cairo (this page), reporter Philip Smucker agreed to be a guest on an Egyptian call-in radio show. When he expressed the view that Palestinian suicide bombing against Israeli targets was probably detrimental to the Palestinian cause – especially in the eyes of Americans – the switchboards lit up. Phil says the Egyptian callers repeatedly supported suicide bombing as a legitimate tactic, which had finally made the world pay attention to the Palestinian plight. "Even when I suggested that women and children should not be targeted, the callers pointed out that the Israeli military, in their view, rarely took similar considerations while prosecuting its war."

– Margaret Henry

Europe editor

Cultural snapshot

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