Reporters on the Job

NORMALCY RETURNS: When a crowd of boys playing soccer in the street beneath his window at midnight kept Peter Ford from sleeping the other night, he was tempted to shout some complaints. But after so many nights when the only noise was gunfire, he was grateful for the familiar and innocuous sounds of a plastic ball bouncing on tarmac.

"The pickup game shows how some normal life is returning to Baghdad," says Peter. "They were playing under streetlights, for one thing. But at the same time, they could use the road as a soccer pitch only because there was no traffic except for the occasional Bradley fighting vehicle. Curfew keeps all other vehicles off the roads after 11 p.m."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

Follow-up on a Monitor Story

British lawmaker denies receiving Iraqi payments

A British member of Parliament, whose alleged ties with Saddam Hussein's regime are being investigated in Britain, denied a Monitor story based on Iraqi government documents authorizing payments to him totalling more than $10 million.

In an interview with the Associated Press, George Galloway labeled the story, published April 25, "fantastically untrue." The Monitor obtained documents in Iraq that indicated Mr. Hussein's government authorized six payments to Mr. Galloway between July 1992 and last January. The most recent document authorized a $3 million payment in recognition of the MP's "courageous and daring stands against the enemies of Iraq, like [Tony] Blair, the British prime minister, and for his opposition in the House of Commons and Lords against all outrageous lies against our patient people."

Galloway, who strongly opposed the US-led war in Iraq, said the latest allegations removed any doubt that "I am the subject of a deliberate campaign of forgery and deception." The lawmaker said that in 1992, "I had never set foot in the country [Iraq], not met an Iraqi leader, and they had probably never heard of me." He has told his attorneys to bring a libel suit against a British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, for reports on papers its reporter found in Baghdad detailing Galloway's alleged financial ties to the Hussein regime.

British officials have begun an inquiry into whether Galloway misused money from an Iraqi charity he founded. The governing Labour Party, to which Galloway belongs, is also investigating allegations against him.

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