• COURTROOM CONFUSION: Moscow-based reporter Fred Weir has been in a lot of Russian courtrooms over the years - as a journalist - not a defendant, he hastily notes. "I've been impressed by the professionalism of the judges. But I've always been suspicious of the lockstep nature of the proceedings, which have the feel of any bureaucratic process in Russia," he says. But in covering a jury trial for his story today (this page), Fred noticed a a new atmosphere. "It was a little anarchic, and the judge was really frustrated," he says. But he finds that an encouraging sign of progress. "A bit of confusion is usually a sign here that things are changing. In my opinion, the spread of the jury system is just the right antidote in Russia to what has been in the past a smoothly running machine for convicting people. Juries offer a way for the public to insert themselves into what was formerly a closed process. It's a sign of a fresh wind blowing through Russia."
• HEART TO HEART IN IRAQ: Finding Iraqis willing to do heart-to-heart chats is not the easiest thing to do in Baghdad, says correspondent Scott Peterson. Officially sanctioned interviews usually take time, paperwork, and sometimes don't yield very satisfying results, especially when accompanied by a government "guide."
Today's story (page 1), like many, was pulled together after Scott met a Iraqi university student who had participated in a live dialogue between US and Iraqi students broadcast on Al Jazeera last week. He met the student's mother, who was a professor at Baghdad University. It was through the mother that Scott was able to gather together a group of Iraqis who had lived and worked in the US.
Often Iraqis fear talking to foreign journalists. But with the threat of war looming, she told Scott, "What do we have to lose? Do you think it will help?"
David Clark Scott