• A Different Person: Correspondent Ben Lynfield has interviewed Palestinian legislator Nabil Amr several times since 1998 or so. But this time, he said, was different. "I hadn't interviewed him for several years. He was changed: In the old days, he was a big defender of Yasser Arafat and the policies of the Palestinian Authority," Ben says.
Two years ago, Mr. Amr started criticizing Arafat and calling for reforms, and today, Ben says, his language is very much that of the reformist, calling for law and order in the Palestinian territories.
"He's shifted from a defender to a critic of the system," says Ben. And, he's clearly been practicing his English. "Years ago, he hardly spoke any English, so we would stumble along between my Arabic and his English, and it was very painstaking process. We were slow to understand exactly what each person meant, and we were guessing at vocabulary. This time, he was practically fluent."
• Taxi Wisdom: Any journalist who travels knows that taxi drivers are never at a loss for commentary. Contributor Helen Womack found several quite happy to bend her ear as they ferried her around Kiev, Ukraine (page 1).
"One told me that neither candidate should be president - he had a 'curse on both your houses' attitude," Helen says. Another told her that what really mattered was the wage of the working man - that politicians, in the end, are all the same.
"Interestingly, no one seemed to be 'pro' anyone," Helen notes. "They're all rather cynical. But the rest of the population was different. They are engulfed in the drama and very emotional - to the point that the cleaning lady in my hotel started to cry at the thought of anyone becoming president other than her opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko."
Deputy World editor