Reporters on the Job

Not Disabled-Friendly Yet: Beijing seems like a tough city to navigate in a wheelchair, observes correspondent Simon Montlake. "That's one reason why you don't see many on the streets," he says. "This absence was a point I raised with the official China Disabled People Federation (see story and listen to audio). They pointed out that progress was being made on improving access for the disabled and the elderly, particularly with new buildings."

Simon looked through a detailed book of building codes they had, and it laid out specifics on obstacle-free ramps into buildings, the height on buttons on elevators, and so forth. One page, he says, had a beautiful line drawing of a footbridge over a busy road with an elevator at the base that would allow wheelchair users to cross.

"I'd never seen one of these in Beijing, so I asked Ma Yue, the legal affairs officer, if there were any of these already in service and if she'd ever seen one," he says. "She shook her head to say no. It looked good on paper – really good – but not really in practice.

Burning Question: Correspondent Orly Halpern had to work hard to keep her interview with Ethiopian commune-founder Zumra Nuru on point and not allow it to diverge into sartorial inquiries (see story).

"He had this incredibly shocking neon green cap on his head that had fuzzy little strings coming out of it," she says. "I thought maybe it was something cultural, or maybe it means, 'I'm the chief.' " At the end, she finally asked if it held a special meaning. "He just looked at me so kindly, with bright eyes, and said, 'No, it has no meaning ... but do you like it?' "

– Amelia Newcomb

Assistant World editor

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