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Tuesday, March 18, 2003

photoblogging in Northern Iraq: child at chem-weapons attack site  

Image: This child was just hanging out on main street in Halabja on the 15th Anniversary of the chemical weapons attack. Click on image for full-size view. Discuss

photoblogging in Northern Iraq: elderly lady in a hurry  

Image: Slow and and not so steady across a muddy parking lot, on her way to catch a bus. Click on image for full-size view. Discuss

photoblogging in Northern Iraq: after-school horseplay  

Image: These two are going head-to-head after school in Sulaymaniyah. Click on image for full-size view. Discuss
photoblogging in Northern Iraq: woman in hejab  

Image: This woman in hejab was a bit leery of me as I snapped her while she was on her way to the market. Lots of women in Sulamniyah dress western. There's a university here. It's a bit more liberal. Click on image for full-size view. Discuss
audblog: I'm in Kalar, Iraq where Kurdish people are fleeing the front lines.  
What I'm looking at right now is long line of trucks packed with all kinds of belongings of Kurdish people moving north. With President Bush's speech last night that the conflict could begin in 48 hours if Saddam Hussein and his sons don't leave Iraq, many people are afraid that the war will begin and that theyll be trapped in this area that is very close to the Iraqi front lines. We were just in the town of Kifri about 30 km from here about half an hour ago, and we could see Iraqi troops moving back and forth about a kilometer away. Most people had already fled, it's like a ghost town... (continued)

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Monday, March 17, 2003

Whispers of War  
I worked for NBC News correspondent Fred Francis at for three years. I was his producer. Now we are both staying at the Palace Hotel in Sulamaniyah in Northern Iraq. Now we are working for competing networks, covering a story that is evolving here moment by moment.

Last night we spoke, as friends, as fellow correspondents. What will happen, where should we go? Race west toward the oil fields of Kirkuk. There are reports that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has rigged them with explosives. There are reports that American troops will paradrop in--secure that area first. Or should we move south, toward Baghdad. Every correspondent knows there's glory in that. We all remember, green with envy, the BBC's John Simpson marching into Kabul after the fall of the Taliban. But it seems somewhat cyncial, unforgivingly opportunistic to feed a career on carnage of war. But we do. If I'm forced to rationalize it, i'll do it like this--the motivation will make me to work harder to take more chances on the story.

The people that are here, that cover these thing are often the same faces I see wherever war is brewing or in play. It's both an avocation and an addiction. A search for moral absolutes in uncompromising violence. War corrspondent Chris Hedges explains beautifully in his book, WAR IS A FORCE THAT GIVES US MEANING.

I asked Fred when he this war would start. We have all given into its inevitability weeks ago. Be ready shortly after the President speaks, he told me. President Bush speaks tonight. There will be an ultimatum, we are told. Reporters here whisper in the corridors, afraid of losing a competitive edge. They fill their four wheel drives with petrol and pack them with bottled water. The days of feature stories are numbered. The only question: toward the fires or toward the glory. Or perhaps something worse.

It's good to be in the blogosphere.  
Xeni and John, I hope you two are incredibly proud of yourselves. Look at all of the people responding, because you put this blog out there. This experience has really made me rethink my rather orthodox views of reaching folks via mass media. Blogging is an incredible tool, with amazing potential. The feedback readers are posting motivates me to provide as much as I can for all of these folks hungry for first-hand info. Will probably have another full story today -- plus, will try to send some photos from Halabja taken yesterday, horrible Internet connections permitting. You guys are my heroes.
Iraq == tech hell  
Sorry I can't be more active posting right now. We're in hell technologically right now. Probs with videophone and net connections, as well as satellite phone service. There are so many people using sat-phones in the region, it creates huge congestion. We (CNN) filed a package yesterday from Halabja on the 15th anniversary of the chemical weapons attack against the Kurds there, and had big f-ups with audio. Plus, time is bearing down on us, with the President expected to speak tonight. Some journos are speculating that the war could start by the end of the week. I'll try to post more for you soon -- as we sort this out.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Now online: "War Boy Journals," my diaries from previous conflicts  
Updated the blog to include archived excerpts from "War Boy Journals," a collection of my war diaries from time spent covering previous conflicts in Chiapas, Afghanistan and Kosovo. Discuss
I'm in Halabjah, Iraq, on 15th anniversary of poison gas attacks (Audblog)  
Today, I'm in the Northern Iraqi city of Halabjah, where they're commemorating the 15th anniversary of poison gas attacks by Saddam Hussein that killed a reported 5,000 Kurds in this region. Hussein had been fighting an eight-year war with the Iranians, and suspected that the people of this city were supporting the Iranians at that time... (blogmaster's note: Kevin's satellite phone connection fails later during this post, ending it prematurely.)

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