Reporters on the Job
• Street Scenes: The protests against cuts in benefits for Russian pensioners are widespread, but not in Moscow. The city is still subsidizing seniors there, effectively protecting them from the federal cuts. So correspondent Fred Weir went to Khimki, a Moscow bedroom community where he met with three of the demonstrators (page 7).
"One of the things they complained about was how the state-run television stations were covering the protests," says Fred. "I watched it. It looked like pretty tame stuff: a few docile pensioners with signs standing around. But the folks I interviewed said that the police set dogs on them, beat them, and arrested some of the protesters. None of that was broadcast."
Fred was struck by the depth of their anger. "What's astonishing is that this is the generation that grew up under Stalin. The idea that someone who fought on the Russian and Poland fronts during World War II would now confront the Russian police is remarkable. You expect the post-Soviet generation, like the students in the Ukraine, to behave this way," he says. "But this is the first time we've seen such widespread demonstrations in the Putin era, and I certainly didn't expect to see pensioners to be leading it."
• Out of Iraq: Staff writer Scott Peterson first interviewed Janon Kadhim (this page) before the Iraq war, when doing a story about American-educated professors. Since then, he has stayed in touch with her family. On one visit, Mrs. Kadhim told of how the family had fled to Iraq's border with Jordan, but only she and the children - using her US passport - were allowed to cross. After spending some heartbreaking time in Jordan trying to arrange for papers for the rest of the family, she came back. But on New Year's Eve, they all made it into Jordan. "I'm sure this is not the final chapter in the saga for this family," says Scott. "But they were certainly in need of a rest. You can hear their joy about getting out in every word."
David Clark Scott