Reporters on the Job
• Buddhas Without Feet: Today's story about stolen Buddhist statues in Afghanistan (this page) had so many twists and turns, that it reminded staff writer Scott Baldauf of "Rashomon," the classic Japanese movie. Rashomon is the story of four people who witness a murder and each one tells a completely different but believable story of what happened. Eventually, the panel of judges sent by the Japanese emperor to solve the case simply give up.
"But clearly the Buddhas didn't walk out of there themselves," says Scott. "And having spent some time reporting in the antique markets of Peshawar, where we found shop after shop full of Afghan Buddhist artifacts, I feel that the real culprits of the Mis Ainak heist are not the thieves or even the Pakistanis (who get blamed for everything these days), but rather the rich foreigners who are willing to buy Buddhas that they know or suspect are stolen."
• Going Down? Getting to the itty bitty 14th-floor Moscow offices of the last independent news broadcaster in Russia took some doing. Upon entering the tall Soviet office block that is home to Radio Ekho Moskvy, staff writer Scott Peterson was searched by the security guards. Then, it was his turn to search - for the elevator. Nothing on the ground floor. Nothing on the first floor. Finally, Scott and his interpreter found an elevator at one end of the second floor lobby.
"Once we got upstairs, we realized there was a secret," says Scott. A VIP express elevator. Apparently, only those guests important enough to merit a portrait in the hallway (Clinton, Putin, Gorbachev, Chirac, and Sharon) are allowed to use that elevator.
But his status rose, at least momentarily, when he emerged from his interview. "Do you want me to call the VIP elevator?" a radio staffer asked helpfully. But he then withdrew the offer, saying it would take too long to arrive. Scott took the civilian elevator down.
David Clark Scott