• I'm Welcome Here, Really: As of Jan. 1, foreign journalists in China were officially given freedom to travel the country and talk to whomever they like without prior permission. But not all Chinese know that.
One official who spoke to staff writer Peter Ford at lunchtime about the family-planning policy in his region (see story) was strangely reluctant to continue the interview at suppertime. It turned out the official had received a visit – and a warning – in the afternoon from Public Security officers. Peter loaned the official his copy of the new regulations (he never travels without them) so that he could photocopy them and show them to the police, should they return. Reassured, the official agreed to continue the interview.
• Relentless in Baghdad: When staff writer Scott Peterson heard of the barrage of explosions blighting the Methboubs' lives (see story), the experience of the Monitor's own staff recently came into sharper focus. How much more dangerous is Baghdad becoming, despite the US-Iraqi security crackdown?
"The proximity of the violence to everyone in this city is coming home," says Scott.
Last Thursday, during a meeting with the family, Scott's translator received a call from his wife, saying that three mortars had exploded in their neighborhood.
On Saturday, one driver's son was at the university when a suicide bomber killed more than 40 there, prompting another panicked call. Later, a car bomb exploded 200 yards from the Monitor's and other media's offices, on a traffic circle where Scott and his team had passed a few hours before. His team often ate breakfast near there. Monday they made breakfast in the office.
And Saturday night, US artillery shells pounded insurgent positions not far from where two Monitor guards reside. On Sunday, the blast that yet again broke the Methboubs' windows, came from a car bomb parked in a side lot – where one Monitor driver had spent more than an hour waiting, the day before.
David Clark Scott