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Reporters on the Job

Family Member: While the passing of Pope John Paul II has been felt globally, those in Rome have been particularly affected by the events in their midst, says correspondent Sophie Arie (page 1). "The pope has been around for so long that it was very hard for Italians to think that he could actually die. He's always bounced back from illness or even assassination attempts," she notes. "But suddenly, last Thursday, there was this broad awareness that someone who was essentially part of the family might die. It was all anyone could talk about."

Sophie says she has been impressed by how much John Paul touched Italians, even those who didn't agree with him. "One woman told me yesterday that when the pope was elected, she and her friends felt resentment that he wasn't Italian. But now, she told me, she feels guilty about that sentiment, as everyone has grown to love him," Sophie says.

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Your Attention, Please: The gridlock in trying to form a new government in Iraq has angered ordinary Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds alike, says correspondent Jill Carroll (this page). "The principal at Ibn Khatib primary school told me she would march in the street if there wasn't a government in two weeks," says Jill. As a religious Shiite, the principal has more reason than Iraqis from other groups to have patience, Jill says. "But even she was fed up. People's complaints were voiced loudly and resonated with the leadership for the first time in decades. Fears of alienating the public forced both sides into hard compromises to begin a new government that finally made real progress yesterday," she says.

Looking for Protest: The day after Zimbabwe's election results came out, the scores of international reporters in the country were waiting to see if supporters of the opposition party, which got trounced in what critics call a flawed election, would take to the streets, says the Monitor's Abe McLaughlin (page 10). "In this era of the Orange and Cedar revolutions, it was the issue on many reporters' minds. Late Friday, I heard about a suburb of Harare where protest was bubbling. But when I got there the next morning, people were about their business almost as if no election had happened."

Abe interviewed one newspaper seller, who was very quiet until he could speak to Abe out of earshot of others.

"If this was the supposed 'hotbed of dissent' - as I had heard it was - then clearly not much of a protest was going to happen," says Abe. "It was then I decided to get on a plane and go home."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor