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November 2006

Hard-hitting journalism

Headline of the Day, from the Associated Press:

"Britney's crotch shots take Web by storm"

Yes for those who haven't heard, the ever-classy Britney Spears has been showing her hoo-hah to the entire world.  If you want to see the photos yourself, take a visit to Pink is the New Blog. WARNING: Viewing Britney Crotch Shot photos may induce vomiting, nausea, fits of uncontrollable laughter, fainting and possibly death. 

Baghdad today


Hiya. First, just a note to say that yes I'm alive and well in beautiful downtown Baghdad. A few folks have sent me notes of concern. But I should stress that I'm in a relatively safe area, and quite far from battleground of Sadr City.

The second most-asked question is: Are we in a Civil War?  Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to answer that one. Just take a look at the dictionary:

American Heritage Dicionary

civil war


  1. A war between factions or regions of the same country.

I think the answer is pretty clear.

So what's the answer? There is no easy answer to solving Iraq's problems. Bombs and bullets alone aren't enough. Diplomacy alone is not enough either. There are so many layers, so many complex factors, including -- but not limited to, -- history, religion, ethnicity, sects, tribes, politics, organized crime, oil, family feuds, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and others I can't even imagine.

It's too easy to just say things like "pull out" or "send more troops" or "kill 'em all and let God sort em out."  For example, this blog was posted by Michael Moore yesterday:

>>Cut and Run, the Only Brave Thing to Do ...a letter from Michael Moore


Yesterday marked the day that we had been in Iraq longer than we were in all of World War II.

That's right. We were able to defeat all of Nazi Germany, Mussolini, and the entire Japanese empire in LESS time than it's taken the world's only superpower to secure the road from the airport to downtown Baghdad.

And we haven't even done THAT. After 1,347 days, in the same time it took us to took us to sweep across North Africa, storm the beaches of Italy, conquer the South Pacific, and liberate all of Western Europe, we cannot, after over 3 and 1/2 years, even take over a single highway and protect ourselves from a homemade device of two tin cans placed in a pothole. No wonder the cab fare from the airport into Baghdad is now running around $35,000 for the 25-minute ride. And that doesn't even include a friggin' helmet.<<

His long-winded letter goes on to make a case for why running away is the answer. Some of what he says makes sense. But most of it is just too simplistic to work. (I won't even get into what a pompous jackass Michael Moore has become lately. Or his outrageous, exaggerated claims like paying $35,000 for a taxi ride from the airport to Baghdad!  I have NEVER paid more than $50! What kind of cab is he riding? A Lamborghini taxi specially modified to carry his huge arse and ego?)

Whether you agree or disagree with going to war in the first place, we are there now. And we're caught in a catch-22. If you pull out altogether, you risk absolute turmoil (i.e. Somalia, or Russians pulling out of Afghanistan only to be replaced by the Taliban). If you add more troops, you risk getting stuck a stale-mate for years with no clear goals and rising casualties (Vietnam). Another idea has been to pull troops back, out of Iraq but keeping them in the region such as Kuwait or Saudi Arabia so they are still close enough to respond to major incidents.  One of the most intriguing ideas came from Sen. Joseph Biden, who suggests partitioning Iraq into three regions -- in effect the "Balkanization" of the country following the successful model of Bosnia -- with an oil-revenue sharing plan and central Baghdad government.   

The bottom line is there are NO EASY ANSWERS. But we have at least try and open dialogue and remain open to ideas, even drastic risky measures. Otherwise, this country will spiral into full blown-out Civil War. And it's hard to imagine things getting much worse than they are now. 

Baghdad Burning (still)


As of today, the war on Iraq has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in World War:  3 years, 8 months and six days, if you're keeping count.  And what's changed since March 2003?  Well, umm, let's see. It's gotten gradually worse. But other than that, nothing.

This photo was taken this afternoon after two mortars were fired on a U.S. base in eastern Baghdad. The military refused to say what happened, but by the looks of the smoke and the length the fire lasted, it appears the mortars hit a fuel dump. 

Same story, different day.

On a brighter note: I've uploaded some new photos of Iraq, and lots from Rome. Click on the Flickr icon on the top-right to see the photostream.

Happy Thanksgiving, ya'll

I had no idea it was Thanksgiving until late Thursday night, sitting in Baghdad, eating my lovely room service dinner of chicken tikka, chips and a can of Fosters beer.  That's how out of it I am these days.  Hope ya'll had a good one!  This is also just an excuse to post this hilarious photo:


Sleepful in Baghdad

Last night, I slept for 10 straight hours. It was first time I had slept more than 6 hours in at least two weeks. And did I mention I'm in Baghdad?  After living in London -- with police sirens, buses and screaming drunks passing by our windows at all hours of the time -- sleeping in Baghdad is a piece of cake. Especially now that the government has imposed an emergency, indefinite curfew for all vehicles and pedestrians in Baghdad and closed all airports to commercial flights. The reason: a massive attack yesterday that killed more than 150 civilians.  Just another day in Baghdad. Absolutely nothing has changed. It's no better, no worse.  The only difference is all the landscaping. Yes, that's right. Landscaping. The road in front of my hotel has been decorated with beautiful flowers, trees, Iraqi flags, and the roundabout nearby has a new park with a lovely fountain and dozens of new benches -- a park with no visitors because people are too scared to venture out. Check out this parody from today's issue of "":

CNN Renews This Week At War For Next Eight Seasons

ATLANTA—CNN officials announced that they will be carrying the popular news show This Week At War through the 2014 season. "We're confident that we'll have at least eight full seasons worth of material for this property," said CNN President Jonathan Klein during the dedication of the new 11-story TWAW news headquarters in Kuwait City. "And believe me, we're going to be going in some surprising new directions. A premise like this can go on for a generation." In addition to TWAW's extended renewal, CNN is retooling existing news shows to give them a more martial focus, most notably The Situation And War Room, and Lou Dobbs Tonight In The Middle Of A Pitched Street Battle Between Sunni And Shiite Extremists.


I'M GOBSMACKED!  ABSOLUTELY GOBSMACKED!  A few weeks ago I mentioned that one of my photographs had been chosen as a finalist in an Islington photography contest focusing on London transportation.

Well...I WON!  I WON!  I WON!

The contest was judged by the public, who voted on their favorite photos at an exhibit last week. My entry was an artsy, time-lapse photo of a Routemaster double-decker bus, taken last December in Angel, Islington. It was the last night before the Rouemaster bus was retired forever after 50+ years. It has since been replaced by a hideous, single-decker, non-photogenic "bendy bus." 

541162392_bg And I didn't just win some cheezy ribbon or pat on a back. I won a Canon 30D digital SLR with 18-55mm lens...retail value $1,500 USD!!!!!  I've never won anything valuable in my life!  (Not counting the $500 I won gambling on craps in The Palms, Las Vegas).

The Canon 30D is my dream camera; it's one generation ahead of my current SLR, the Canon 20D.  I absolutely love my 20D but it has a few quirks that have been corrected in the new version.

Unfortunately the "awards ceremony" is being held at the Town Hall on Wednesday, when I'll be in Baghdad, so Mrs. Crab will be accepting the prize on my behalf.

Anyone want to by a used Canon20D for cheap? Except for a few minor scratches, it's in perfect condition!  :o)   

Castle TomKat

Odescalchi Castle, Brecciano, Italy: 18 November 2006
Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

Greetings from Bracciano, Italy, where I'm here to cover the biggest celebrity wedding of the year between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. It's all over now. TomKat are married. But many residents (and paparazzi) felt snubbed that the celebs never came out of their tinted-window limos to greet the crowd, many who waited hours in the rain to see their favourite stars. Oh well.

Tomkat aside, Bracciano is a gorgeous little village, located about an hour north of Rome. A beautiful fairy-tale town with cobblestoned roads and a castle in the heart of town. Every town should have a castle, and ever castle should look like this, with round turret towers, high walls and battlements. I shall have to return to this town again with Mrs. Crab in a non-working capacity.

Have I mention how much I love Italy? Great weather, great food, great people. Except for Rome. The first day I got here, the taxi driver short-changed me by 40 euros. Bastard. Rome has lots of cool sites to see but the town itself is kind of scuzzy. Litter everywhere. The alleys smell of urine. The metro cars are covered in grafitti. Annoying beggers everywhere. Get me back to Bracciano!

A Simple Paris Smile

Paris Hilton @ Casino Royale premiere
Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

From Mr. Crab:  I covered the world premiere of "Casino Royale" in London's Leicester Square tonight. What a madhouse! Thousands of fans, hundreds of vulture reporters from around the world pushing and shoving for morsels of quotes.  The big-name stars of the film walked by us with barely a word.  To top it off, it was raining, one of those aweful London cold rains that is stronger than a drizzle but lighter than a shower -- just enough to make you miserable.

So now I'm wet and hungry, my feet hurt, my tuxedo is way too tight.  At one point I had just about given up that I briefly put my notepad and pen in my pocket and pulled out my camera to take a few snapshots. Paris Hilton had been milling around in the center of the red carpet area, ignoring both fans and the press and had her ear permanently glued to her cell phone.  After a minute she put her phone away and started walking in my direction towards the theater. Everyone was yelling "PARIS! PARIS!"  As she got about 5 feet from me I yelled "MISS HILTON!  MISS HILTON!"  For whatever reason that got her attention because she stopped, did a 180, looked right at me, smiled, then turned on her heel and kept walking. But I got the shot. Anyway, that's my celebrity story of the day.

I did get a one-word answer to a question from Daniel Craig (James Bond), and much better quotes from Eva Green (Bond Girl), Caterna Murino (a minor bond girl) and Dame Judi Dench (M).   The friendliest actor was Mads Mikkelsen, who plays the Bond villain Le Chiffre.

Other celebs I saw tonight were Elton John, David Furnish, Sharon Osbourne, a Britpop band called Sugababes. But the highlight of the evening:  QUEEN ELIZABETH II!   But she was at least 50 feet from me and I only got an obstructed view of the back of her head as she and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, exited their limo towards the theater.  But I can finally saw I saw the Queen in person. Woo hoo!

As for the film itself: I give it 3 out of 4 Crabs. Basically it starts out great, with a WICKED (they still say that in England) footchase scene that had me on the edge of my seat! And Daniel Craig was awesome. I would rate him second to Sean Connery. He is THAT good. It's much darker and graphic than past Bond films, with a horrific torture scene not for the faint-hearted. There's also a love story. After playing the field for four decades, James Bond actually falls in love with a Bond Girl.

But the story, like many Bond films, was complex and hard to follow. The film trailed off in the last 30 minutes, finally ending in a completely anti-climactic scene that the audience at an advance screening were left shrugging their shoulders and wondering, "Uhhh, that's it?"  But after 2 hours, 25 minutes, I nor my bladder cared what happened next. Still, it's worth a matinee.  Bond is Back!