• When's Curfew Again? Correspondent Sam Dagher had planned on a busy day Wednesday, the day before the start of a pilgrimage to the Khadimiya shrine in Baghdad (see story). But that was not to be. "We thought curfew would start at 10 p.m. Wednesday night," he says, "but I woke up to find that it had been moved up to 5 a.m. Wednesday morning."
Sam says the list of cancellations in his e-mail inbox suggested that the Americans and the Iraqis were not exactly in lockstep on the change. "I had all these notices saying that events had been canceled. The Multinational Forces were supposed to give a press conference today at 2 p.m., which was canceled. USAID was giving a background briefing and sent a message in urgent large red type that it, too, was canceled. Our security folks were confused. Our staff was turned away as well."
Sam says that many Baghdadis, thinking it would be a normal workday, left for work but were told to go home. He notes that this might be a benefit for some: "People can still walk – and from the point of view of the religious occasion, it is considered much more blessed to walk to the shrine, as you're putting in more effort."
• Well Met: Correspondent Orly Halpern was in a restaurant in Addis Ababa when Prof. Ephraim Isaac, who has helped resolve a longstanding political crisis, strode in – to a standing ovation (see story). "I asked for an interview, and he was very forthcoming," Orly says, offering to meet with her at the city's Sheraton Hotel. "He was two hours late and announced that we had five minutes. I just started talking fast."
The two discussed his mediation efforts, prompting Professor Isaac to refer to the Bible. "He started to chant in Aramaic. It was beautiful," Orly says. "He was chanting in a singsongy way in this ancient language, quoting verses about the lamb lying down with the lion. He had a beautiful voice, and with his colorful robes and his gray beard, I felt I was traveling back in history."
– Amelia Newcomb
Assistant World Editor