• Sleepless in Mosul: Correspondent Sam Dagher spent three days in Mosul, which is often called the last urban stronghold of Al Qaeda in Iraq (see story). Sleeping there, he says, was difficult. "At night, the sound of explosions and gunfire is relentless. I woke Friday shortly after dawn to the reverberating sound of a police station in the city center being blown up," says Sam.
The atmosphere reminded Sam of the most dangerous "no-go" neighborhoods of Baghdad. "In the center of Mosul, where the local government has some semblance of control because it's next to a US military base, entire streets are empty of cars – they have been cut off to vehicle traffic for fear of car bombs," he says.
• Free-Speech 'Virtual' Protest: To denounce government censorship of the Internet, Reporters Without Borders is calling for an online protest against the practices of nine countries. For 24 hours starting at 6 a.m. Eastern time March 12, it's inviting people to its site to create a protest avatar, choose a message for their banner, and take part in one of the cyberdemos in Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, North Korea, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.
The organization says that 63 cyber-dissidents are currently imprisoned worldwide. The group is also making a Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents available on its website (www.rsf.org ). The book offers advice on how to blog anonymously and circumvent censorship.
– David Clark Scott