From around the country:
William Neikirk of the Chicago Tribune filed this: "War has been hell on the U.S. economy. And its effect could linger long after peace breaks out. Before and after the onset of hostilities, the conflict's fearful uncertainties have inflicted major collateral damage on a weak recovery as layoffs mount and consumer spending slackens. With bad economic news arriving in waves, many experts believe the odds of another recession are increasing. In perhaps the most telling statistic, the Labor Department reported Friday that nearly a half-million Americans have lost their jobs since February. In addition, businesses have virtually halted new investment, vital to the economy's health. People are putting off vacations, companies have scaled back corporate travel, manufacturing is shrinking and the airline industry is crying for a government bailout. 'Our business has dwindled dramatically, perhaps 90 percent,' said Michael Greenwald, co-owner of a Ft. Lauderdale travel agency. Businesses have cut back on travel by their workers, he said, and families have postponed vacations while the war is raging. 'People do not want to fly,' Greenwald said."
Meg Laughlin of the Miami Herald filed this from Iraq: "An explosion rocked the center of Bushmaster, a huge U.S. Army combat support center near Najaf, on Friday afternoon. It happened at an oasis that soldiers took over March 23 after a battle and use as a water source. Nomadic women still wash their clothes there while their children play nearby. Dogs and camels drink from it. People come with buckets. Sometimes, farmers pray by it. In this dry desert, this oasis is a much-needed source of hope and life despite the war. But what caused the explosion Friday suggests that a tragic legacy will linger there, long after the war has ended. The explosion was from a rocket-propelled grenade that landed at the oasis two weeks ago but didn't detonate. The land around the oasis is full of these duds, mortar rounds and souped-up grenades that explode from the least bit of vibration. The mortar rounds look like Coke bottles with fins; the grenades look like Coke bottles in skirts. In Afghanistan last year, months after the war around Kabul was over, children sometimes picked up duds or walked by them, and the duds exploded. The Emergency Surgical Hospital in Kabul was full of kids whose arms and legs had been blown off. Sgt. Tony Dunnick, from Huron, S.D., who oversees the Army's distribution of water at the Iraqi oasis, said he turned on a pump and the vibration triggered the grenade. No one was hurt — this time. 'There are a lot more of them out there,' he said. Sgt. James Tankersley of Andalusia, Ala., who guards the 'water point,' said: 'From now on, when I see children walking toward the pond, I'm going to look away.'"
Beth Gillin of the Philadelphia Inquirer looked at this angle: "She wasn't supposed to be in a firefight. She was a shipping clerk. But she was also a soldier. So when the Army's 507th Maintenance Company convoy took a wrong turn in the desert and was ambushed by Iraqi paramilitary fighters, Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, knew what to do. She fired back until she ran out of bullets. Ten Army soldiers died in the March 23 ambush, including one woman. Four vanished, including two women. The fates of the three female soldiers quickly rekindled the debate about women's role in combat. Lynch was rescued Tuesday in a daring commando raid on a Nasiriyah hospital. Yesterday, eight bodies recovered during Lynch's rescue were identified. Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, 23, was among them, the first American woman soldier killed in the Iraq war. A Hopi Indian from Tuba City, Ariz., she left a son, 4, and a daughter, 3. Another woman from their unit, Army Spec. Shoshana Nyree Johnson, 30, a cook with a 2-year-old daughter, is a prisoner of war. All three were placed in harm's way, although their maintenance jobs were presumed to be safer than front-line positions. Looking at what happened to Lynch, Johnson and Piestewa, some have concluded that a policy that puts mothers of small children in peril, instead of restricting them to jobs far from the battlefield, is a failure. Others think just the opposite: Since women are already in danger, perhaps it's time to lower all the barriers."
Brent Israelson of the Salt Lake Tribune looked at local contributions to the war effort: "As the U.S. military tightens its grip on Saddam Hussein's regime in Baghdad, a Utah National Guard unit is helping to provide intelligence and interrogation expertise. About a dozen members of the guard's 141st Military Intelligence Battalion have been gathering information used to protect troops closing in on the core of Iraq's capital city. 'They are in the forward edge of the battlefield right now supporting the 3rd Infantry Division,' said Maj. Alan Garrett, of Orem. The bulk of the battalion, about 250 soldiers, is in the rear, providing linguistic and intelligence support at command posts in Kuwait. The 141st — formed about 15 years ago and based in Orem — is comprised of men and women trained in collecting and analyzing information about potential dangers to troops in the field. Its members also are tasked with counter-intelligence and providing linguistic support for infantry and other operations."
Anna Badkhen of the San Francisco Chronicle is in Northern Iraq: "Hakar did not come to the front line by himself. His father brought him. Kurdish commander Bahram Shirvani said he thought it was a good idea to teach his son to like war the way he himself likes it. Hakar was old enough, Shirvani said. He was already 7. While Hakar stands there, Iraqi artillery shells slam into surrounding fields of emerald green wheat. A Kurdish sniper fires rounds into the distance. An American F-16 fighter plane pounds Iraqi positions two miles away, each explosion shaking the ground on which Hakar stands wide-eyed, taking it all in. 'I'm used to this, and I want him to be used to this,' his father says, firmly, oblivious to the sound of Iraqi heavy artillery rounds exploding a few hundred yards away. 'I live like this, and I want him to live like this, too.' The rapid transformation from boyhood to hardened fighter is almost routine in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, where a child's role model is the fearless fighter who dies defending this mountainous land from its multitudinous enemies. Here, smugglers sell weapons openly at street bazaars, every household keeps a gun and every bedtime story contains an allegory to the Kurds' centuries-old struggle for independence."
From around the world:
The Islamic Republic News Agency of Iran provided this perspective: "Majlis Speaker Mehdi Karroubi said on Sunday that the U.S. is waging atomic warfare on Iraqi people, ignoring the international conventions. He expressed deep grief at mass killing of Iraqi civilians and desecration of Iraq-based sanctities and holy shrines. 'How do you describe occupation of a sovereign state and exposing the civilians of the country to atomic bombardment? Do you want to bring democracy to Iraq?' he asked. 'The Iraqi people themselves have the right to determine their own fate. The security of the region should be protected by the nations in the area,' Karroubi said. 'The U.S. has waged a war on Iraq for oil and help the Zionist regime gain dominance over the region,' he said. 'The U.S. waged war on Iraq for alleged possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction, but, the coalition forces have not found any sign of WMD in that country in the past 17-day operation,' Majlis speaker said, challenging the U.S. pretexts for the attack."
Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post focused upon life inside Iraq: "A call came over the radio at 2:30 p.m. Saturday: Two truckloads of Iraqi civilians, displaced when the U.S. Army took over the Saddam Hussein International Airport in Baghdad late Thursday night, would be moving through the lines escorted on either side by Army vehicles. The call was a warning not to shoot; the civilians had already been interrogated by the 3rd Infantry Division 1st Brigade and were cleared to relocate inside the city. The call was necessary because U.S. troops, fearful of terrorist attacks, have orders to shoot any civilian vehicle attempting to come through the lines. These instructions are well placed. Three U.S. soldiers were killed by two Iraqi women suicide bombers on Friday and four soldiers were killed in a suicide car-bombing a week ago. There have been numerous attempted attacks. During the 3rd Infantry Division's advance across the Karbala Gap on the way to Baghdad Wednesday night, the Iraqis repeatedly tried to ram U.S. forces with pickup trucks rigged with explosives. Two white pickup trucks were destroyed by tanks as they drove full speed toward them. 'I think the Iraqis are pathetic,' said 1st Brigade commander William Grimsley. 'What can a '74 Datsun do against an M-1A-1 tank? They don't seem to understand that these tanks can see as well at night as they do during the day and can shoot exact targets from 3,500m.'"
The (Amman) Jordan Times focused upon local protests: "As anger and resentment grows over images of the destruction and civilian death toll wrought by the U.S.-U.K. bombing of Iraq, thousands of citizens filled the streets for a third consecutive Friday condemning the 'brutal and unjust war.' Tens of thousands of Jordanians took part in licensed and impromptu demonstrations following Friday noon prayers in Amman, Irbid, Salt, Tafileh, Jerash, Aqaba, Koura, Mazar Shamali as well as the Wihdat and Baqaa refugee camps. Protests in the Kingdom were echoed with equally large demonstrations in countries throughout the region. Denouncing the coalition for its 'crusade' against the region, demonstrators also condemned Arab leaders for not taking a firm stand against the invasion of Iraq. Pictures of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Iraqi flags were raised as people chanted 'Death to America!' 'Bush what do you want from us? Why don't you take your dogs and leave the region?' In Amman, the 13-member opposition bloc led some 2,000 protesters in a march from the Professional Associations Complex towards U.N. headquarters a few blocks away. Before the march began, the crowd performed a group prayer for the souls of Palestinian and Iraqi 'martyrs.'"
Russia's Tass News Agency reported this: "A motorcade with staffers of the Russian embassy in Iraq, including the Russian ambassador, who intended to drive to the Iraqi-Syrian border, was attacked on Sunday at the exit from Baghdad. The Russian Foreign Ministry reported that some diplomats were wounded in the attack. Urgent measures were taken to render assistance to the wounded and to bring the group of diplomats outside Iraq without any hindrances. The Foreign Ministry urgently summoned the U.S. and Iraqi ambassadors in Moscow. The ministry demanded in a tough form that the Iraqi and American sides should take all necessary measures to ensure security of Russian citizens as well as to investigate the incident and to punish those guilty."
The Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald offered its readers this: "New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has apologised to the Bush Administration over comments that the U.S. may not have invaded Iraq if Al Gore had been elected president, a newspaper reported yesterday. She said she had given New Zealand's ambassador in Washington, John Wood, directions to give her apology 'wherever he felt he had to convey it,' the New Zealand Herald said. Ms. Clark's comments in a newspaper interview a week ago drew a diplomatic rebuke from a U.S. embassy spokesman in Wellington, who said they were 'regrettable.' The New Zealand Government has not backed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, holding that the issue should have been dealt with by the U.N.. 'I don't think that September 11 under a Gore presidency would have had this consequence for Iraq,' she told the Sunday Star-Times on March 30."
Compiled by Andrew Cohen