• Hanging with Charlie Company: Reporter Dan Murphy spent some time with Charlie Company in Tikrit while reporting today's story (page 1). Their home for most of the past year has been in Saddam Hussein's "Birthday Palace," a compound of marble and stone buildings complete with its own reviewing stands for annual parades in Mr. Hussein's honor. Despite its grand name, and the opulence of its sweeping columns, up close the place is a mess, says Dan. "The marble is badly installed and chipped, the plumbing doesn't really work, and there's no insulation against the surprisingly cold Baghdad winter, almost like a metaphor for the rot at the heart of Hussein's regime," he says.
Nevertheless, the soldiers have settled in, including adopting a few of the local stray animals, who've been fattened up on Army food. When Dan went out on a frigid midnight foot patrol with a squad, two of the dogs trailed them the whole evening, even settling down quietly and nuzzling up with the troops when they hid for an hour at an abandoned building.
David Clark Scott
• How to Help: Many aid agencies, including the ones listed, are accepting cash donations to assist the relief effort in Bam, Iran.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.www.ifrc.org In the US, 1-800-HELPNOW.
World Vision www.worldvision.orgIn the US: 1-888-56-CHILD.
Mercy Corps International www.mercycorps.org In the US: 1-503-796-6827
UNICEF www.supportunicef.org. In the US: 1800-367-5437.
Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) www.doctorswithoutborders.org In the US: 1-888-392-0392