"The museum is still closed to the public, for lack of security," says Howard. A recent trip to the museum gave him a small taste of the problem. "As we walked in, small-arms fire rang out in the adjacent street and the Monitor security team hustled me inside," Howard says.
The museum still lacks an up-to-date security system and large pieces are draped in plastic. No date is set for reopening. But spokesman Qasim al-Basri told Howard that the government of Italy is assisting in the restoration of the Assyrian and Islamic halls. "Until now, some powers in the Iraqi government have resisted substantial funding of the museum because of its emphasis on Iraq's pre-Islamic cultures. So maybe getting the Islamic hall in shape will open up the purse strings," he says.
– David Clark Scott
• Monday, May 19:Dublin, Ireland – Representatives of more than 100 governments hold conference seeking to ban the use of cluster bombs.Altamira, Brazil – Some 1,000 Indians to protest against a dam planned for the Xingu River.
• Friday, May 23:Nicosia, Cyprus – Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat meet to assess progress toward reunification.Miami – Democratic candidate Barack Obama addresses Cuban American National Foundation.