Sophia's Peace Work

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Hangin' with the Journalists

I've moved out of the CPT house and into a small hotel located in a complex of hotels where alot of Journalists stay. Since I'm not on team with CPT Iraq and my schedule requires that I leave the house more often then they would like, I didn't feel that I could stay there. Secretly I'm kind of happy about the decision though it will be more expensive for me. The CPT team is staying indoors with curtains drawn ... when the power goes out, I feel like I'm some kind of cave dweller starving for light.

The nice thing about the hotel is that it has 24 hour Internet service in the room (for an extra $5 a day), Satellite TV (yeah, I get to watch the BBC again) and I've even got air conditioning (well, atleast when we're on city power).

I've had a series of meetings with the Ministry of Environment (in the never ending search for "permission") and some Iraqi NGO's ... there is so little time ... and everything takes so much time to accomplish. I'm trying to get the Ministry to lighten up and give me the data results from the Tigris River Project. Apparently they believe that the pH and Dissolved Oxygen content of the Tigris is a state secret and must be protected at all costs!

Tonight, when I returned to the hotel, I got a call from my old translator. Several months ago she was working with a friend of mine on issues concerning squatter camps here in Baghdad. I helped out some of their work before and you'll find some mention of it in my archives. Apparently the main camp that they worked on got their eviction notice and the police will be coming tomorrow morning to kick everyone out. As I recall, it was something like 500 families (don't quote me). The spokesman for the camp contacted my translator and ask her if she could get any international press out to cover what was going on.

I offered to go around the hotels and let folks know. I spoke to reporters from the Daily Telegraph, the Independent, the Guardian, NBC and ended up a BBQ at the Time Magazine house which is located within the same complex of hotels. I think I may have interested a few people in the story and I even suggested a few other stories that I think could use some better coverage here in Baghdad (i.e. the Green Zone Garbage Dump, Radiation issues, and the general environmental problems of the city).

It is always interesting to hang with the Journalists ... they always have alot of information about what is happening in the city and they usually have the best political discussions. And now, given the situation in Iraq, most of the Journalists are collected in just a few hotel complexes in the city - mine being one of them.


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