Reporters on the Job

Andy Wong/AP
Residents of Qingdao, China, push iron rings on a new athletic track that was once a road in the city.

Remembering 1993: Correspondent Fred Weir has heard all the arguments in favor of Russia's new two-headed government. On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin agreed to head the United Russia party, strengthening his power as he prepares to step down as president and become prime minister. Dmitry Medvedev will take over as president on May 7.

"Some people here say that this is a dream team. You've got two old friends who have worked together for 17 years," says Fred. "This is synergy, man!"

But Fred notes that Russian history would point to a less optimistic future. "Every time Russia has had two strong leaders, there's been civil war. I was in the center of Moscow in 1993 when President Boris Yeltsin shut down the government in a showdown with the parliament. It produced two days of military conflict in the city," he says.

"It was the only time in my life that I've been shot at. Just two blocks from where I lived, bullets were whistling overhead."

So, when experts tell Fred that this is a "dream team," the weight of Russian history – and the remembered hornet buzz of bullets – suggest otherwise to him.

Core of Steel: When staff writer Jill Carroll sat down with Stellamaris Mualeh, a young Kenyan woman mediating conflicts in her country, Jill was reminded of another woman she'd interviewed.

Last month, she profiled Wazhama Frogh, an Afghan woman using her understanding of Islam to campaign for women's rights. "Both women are 26 years old, soft spoken, articulate. They have this self-possessed placid exterior with a core of steel and resolve," says Jill.

"These are young people from war-torn countries, and yet have such a presence and confidence that I never had at their age," she says.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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