• United in Lebanon: Correspondent Nicholas Blanford, a resident of Beirut, covered the funeral of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri Wednesday (page 1). "I live in a Christian neighborhood that's a short walk from the downtown area where the procession was held. When I stepped outside, I saw small clusters of my middle-class and well-to-do neighbors gathering and walking to the event. That impressed me," says Nick.
"Most of the TV coverage concentrated on the hot heads shouting anti-Syrian slogans during the march. But I walked to a bridge where I could get a good look at Martyrs' Square, and I was more impressed by the silent majority. This was the largest crowd Lebanon has seen, second only to the visit by Pope John Paul II in 1997.
"It was amazing to see tens of thousands of people file quietly under the bridge," he says. "To me that was the moving thing - the diversity of people. Many of my neighbors despised Hariri's redevelopment efforts, criticizing him for trying to create a mini Dubai in Beirut. But they came nonetheless to pay their respects. It was a rare occasion where all Lebanese were united in their grief - and their ire toward Syria."
• Meeting Mr. Jaafari: Staff writer Dan Murphy says that going to interview Ibrahim Jaafari - likely the next prime minister of Iraq - illustrates the level of security surrounding top officials in Baghdad (this page). Mr. Jaafari lives in the Green Zone - a US-guarded area where Iraqi and US officials work and live. That meant Dan had to pass through five separate security checks, including pat downs at each point.
"I lost my interpreter at the first checkpoint because he'd forgotten to bring two picture IDs. But Mr. Jaafari's American security team was kind enough to provide me with one of their employees for the interview," says Dan.
He noticed that Jaafari's office, in the home of a former Baath Party functionary, was distinctive in another respect. "Clearly, he's a physician. It was the only Iraqi political office I've been in where there wasn't any smoking," says Dan.
David Clark Scott