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June 2006

Greetings from hell

I've just arrived in Baghdad for my sixth rotation in Iraq. Coincidentally, today's date is 6-6-6.  Hopefully its not a bad omen.  So far so good.

My flight into Baghdad was uneventful. Stepped off the plane into what felt like a hair dryer: 110 degrees fahrenheit with a hot wind blowing. I wisked through customs in about 10 minutes, met my fixers and drivers and we were at my hotel within 30 minutes of landing.  And this evening, we were treated to the most beautiful sunset.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a box of human heads was found and several policemen and students were executed in broad daylight as the Shiite-Sunni rift/civil war continues.  Another day in paradise.  I was chatting with my fixer over cold Pepsi and I asked him if things were better or worse than when I was last here in November. "Definately worse. It gets worse every day," he said.

Baghdad itself doesn't look much different than it did a year ago, except there is a lot more security and Iraqi police and soldiers everywhere.  But the city seems deserted. The streets are not as crowded anymore. On my flight from Amman, there were only 18 passengers on the 100-seat Fokker jet, whereas in the past the plane was overbooked.  Baghdad is dying.

I spent last night in Amman. It's just 80 minutes flight but a world away from Baghdad.  Just how different is something I pondered last night at 2am, while I sipped a pint of Heineken at JJ's, the nightclub at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Amman. The bar was packed with locals, hotel guests and skimpy-dressed Russian dancers (likely prostitutes), while a DJ blarred "Gasolina" by Mexican rap-rockers Daddy Yankee and "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas while a TV showed English football (soccer) news. Talk about surreal...and sad.

All you need is hardcore love

On another entirely different subject: it now turns out that Mrs. Paul McCartney has a secret past a porn star. See the story on the Sun tabloid website and gallery of Heather Mills McCartney's past work in photos here.

Bonjour, ya'll!

Greetings from Paris. Having a great time in the city of lights. It's about 65 and sunny...and it's 9:30pm. The sun does not set in northern Europe until about 10pm these days, and does not get pitch black until about 10:30-11pm. Did I mention it hailed and drizzled and never got above 50 degrees in Amsterdam? So much for global warming. Paris photos TK.