• Shades of Democracy in Saudi: Correspondent Faiza Saleh Ambah was surprised by what she found when she went to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. She'd read the Saudi press reports of low registration and apathy among citizens toward the first nationwide municipal elections in 60 years.
But what she found was a bunch of energetic male professionals rolling up their sleeves and learning about democracy at the grassroots level (this page). "What struck me was the selfless attitude and the enthusiasm of these volunteers. They were teaching each other about the electoral process, calling citizens to get them registered, and discussing the value of Saudis participating in this democratic process," she says. "It was less about their own candidate, and more about the process of getting others to participate."
"It gave me hope and made me feel badly, too," Faiza says.
Why? "Because Saudi women aren't allowed to register to vote. I can't vote," she says. She also met with some women who had lobbied the government to allow women to participate. "They're talking about how they can still participate, tossing around such ideas as setting up a website where Saudi women can vote, or creating a shadow cabinet of women."
• Seniors in Sri Lanka: Staff writer Robert Marquand didn't set out to write about Sri Lanka's elderly (page 1). But as he visited tsunami refugees at Buddhist temples, schools, and churches, he was surprised by the number of elderly who had died. "I kept hearing over and over again that the grandmother didn't make it," says Bob. He was also surprised by the lack of attention the elderly survivors were getting. "The assumption created by the media is that the greatest number of victims or the biggest affected group were children. This story is an attempt to balance that perspective," says Bob.
David Clark Scott