Reporters on the Job

We Will Survive: Correspondent Tom McCawley met the two shopkeepers in his story today (this page) as he was walking down a street in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. "They were the only store open," Tom says, "and were more than happy to talk. Maria, in fact, couldn't be stopped once she got started."

Tom says that the Chinese who live here have a strong network of relatives - an uncle in Singapore or Jakarta, say - who help in times of trouble. "Since leaving China to seek their fortunes over the past centuries, they've endured wars, revolutions, and now in Aceh, massive natural disaster," he says. "Their drive to do business is rooted in the turmoil they've experienced. Maria's tone as she fumed about the looting that had taken place in her area was one of defiance. It was as if she were saying, 'We will survive and thrive, just as we have for centuries.' "

Where's Raider? Even with 150,000 American troops in Iraq, it can be very difficult finding particular units, says staff writer Scott Peterson (page 1). Since the invasion of Fallujah, Scott has kept in touch with some of the marines from the unit he was with - and knew they would still be around a few days after Iraq's election.

Getting to them was rather more difficult, since the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Company was attached to one Marine battalion in Fallujah, and then reattached to another and moved to Abu Ghraib.

"It didn't seem that anybody knew where they were - even the battalion they were supposed to be attached to, which was based somewhere else, was at a loss," says Scott.

The election came and went. Hopeful and helpful marine press officers said they had found the unit, but they were "unavailable." When Scott did get to them, the reason they had been out of pocket became clear .

"On election day, they got an urgent order to drive to the site of the British C-130 plane crash, to guard it," says Scott. "Three days later they got back, exhausted and ready to leave."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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