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[casi] New Publication: Baghdad Bulletin

1) a newspaper article on the "Baghdad Bulletin"

Check out the online version of the "Baghdad Bulletin" at:

2 specimen from the latest edition:

2) Groups question quality of water

3) Electricity cuts at hospitals continue to kill





City High graduate launches English publication in Baghdad

Friday, July 04, 2003

By Jeff Vandam
The Grand Rapids Press

When David Enders, editor of the Baghdad Bulletin, looked at the proofs for
his upstart newsmagazine before it went to press, he noticed something

  From Our Advertiser

The printer hired by Enders and his partners -- an enthusiastic Iraqi man
who lives several miles north of Baghdad -- had made a mistake.

Instead of printing the text of the English-language magazine from left to
right, he printed it from right to left, the way Arabic text is written.

The error forced Enders, a 1999 graduate of Grand Rapids' City High School,
and his staff to wait an extra day to release their second issue on the
streets of Baghdad. Iraqis and occupying soldiers had been waiting two weeks
since the release of the Bulletin's inaugural issue, which was an instant

When the 24-page issue finally came out June 24 -- printed correctly -- it
featured on its cover a brilliant blue banner and a photo of Iraqis marching
with protest banners. Inside were articles about Baghdad's closed stock
exchange, the Iraqi black market for passports and potential regime change
in Iran. Baghdad residents who read the first issue of the Bulletin said
they had not seen anything quite like it.

Enders, 22, and a few friends from American University in Beirut came to the
Iraqi capital less than two months earlier on a guarded caravan to create
their publication.

Within just a month of their arrival, they had secured funding, printing
presses, an office and a stable of writers to produce their first issue,
which hit newsstands June 9 at a price of 500 Iraqi dinars, or about 40
cents. The online version is at

With little more than a series of internships as his journalistic
background, Enders and his colleagues are striving to bring responsible
journalism to Baghdad.

"It's gone quite well, though it's hard to tell whether that's because
people really like our content or because we're virtually the only
English-language publication available on the street," Enders said.

The Baghdad Bulletin was not born in a news meeting or a smoke-filled room,
but over a cup of tea in the England home of Ralph Hassall, a 23-year-



old Briton who is friends with Enders.

Hassall was at home during his Easter holiday from Arabic classes at the
American University in Beirut when his mother made a suggestion to him. "You
know what Iraq will need?" she said. "An English-language paper."

Hassall thought the idea might interest Enders, whom he had met in Beirut
earlier in the year at the university there. Enders, a University of
Michigan student who spent his last semester abroad, had some journalistic
experience through internships at The Grand Rapids Press, the Associated
Press and The New York Times.

Because Enders and Hassall had discussed traveling east to Iraq from Lebanon
to pursue free-lance journalism work, Hassall called Enders to tell him
about his mother's suggestion.

While receptive to the idea, Enders' primary concern was money. How would
they fund something it?

Hassall approached a few financiers in London and secured a loan of 10,000
pounds -- or about $16,700 -- enough to pay for living expenses and
equipment in Baghdad for a few months. Less than two weeks later, on May 1,
Enders and Hassall hitched a ride on a caravan to Iraq from Amman, Jordan,
to look at old Baath Party printing presses.

Things went better than Enders anticipated. A few weeks later, he and
Hassall were living and working in a large house in the upscale Baghdad
district of Mansur. The house, which belonged to an Iraqi man who had fled
to Lebanon, was across the street from the home of Jalal Talabani, the
founder and Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

On May 18, Enders posted an entry on his Web page for his friends and family
to read. "Baghdad is kind of a mess," he wrote. "Imagine a place with
absolutely no laws, and yes, it is true that pretty much everyone (EVERYONE)
besides me is carrying a gun."

Enders' mother, Denise Joseph-Enders, a special education consultant at
Comstock Park High School, thought the Bulletin was a joke when Enders first
e-mailed her about it. Now she says she has come around to the idea. Sort

"He feels that this is a good thing to do and the right thing to do, so I
have really no control," she said. "And I'm happy for him."

After a whirlwind of long days and little sleep for the Bulletin's staff of
11 people, most of whom were paid $50 a week, the first issue hit the
streets June 9.

Enders and Hassall attracted a range of guest writers to their pages,
including Ann Clwyd, the United Kingdom's special envoy for human rights in
Iraq, and Hussain Abdul-Hussain, a former Iraqi exile who is a reporter for
the Beirut Daily Star.

Advertising is key at most publications, and the Bulletin is no different.
But circulation drives ad rates. So while the Bulletin's first issue had a
40-cent cover price, Enders and Hassall thought it wise to drum up interest
by giving away most of the 10,000 copies they had printed.

They hired a staff of five Baghdadis to bring the paper to English-speaking
neighborhoods. The people they hired were so pleased to get the job that
they acquired matching hats and shirts without any prompting. And they told
Enders they would have delivered the Bulletin for free. Enders said the
first issue was gobbled up by American and British soldiers, who were
desperate for something to read in English, and even more so by Iraqis, who
were desperate for news of their country's reconstruction.

The country has many English-speaking Iraqis, in part owing to past British

Now that the second issue is in the hands of the Iraqi public, the challenge
for the Bulletin is to start turning a profit. Enders and Hassall have an
offer from a news agency asking them to serve as the agency's principal
source for news in the Middle East. The U.S. Army wants to share printing
presses with the Bulletin for its own newspaper.

For his part, Enders is settling into his new role. He recently adopted the
style of many Iraqi men by growing a mustache.

"I don't like it, but I'm not going to tell him," said his girlfriend,
Lauren Aposhian, 21, of the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak. "He says he thinks
it makes him look older, but it doesn't. It makes him look like a
12-year-old with a mustache. But if it's going to increase his chances of
survival, I'm all for it."

© 2003 Grand Rapids Press. Used with permission

Copyright 2003 Michigan Live. All Rights Reserved.


Groups question quality of water

Author: Ralph Hassall

On June 24, a power outage left Baghdad without water for two days. Electric
pumps were unable to work and no water was pumped to the network. Even the
toilets in the offices of Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer
were unable to flush.
"The Electricity Authority is responsible," said the vice-manager of the
Baghdad Water Authority, Mohammed Qassim Hussein. "The situation for us is
now normal, but we don't know what they are going to do in the electricity
A senior Coalition Joint Task Force spokesman blamed the power failure on
looters who attacked an important tower between Baiji power station and
Baghdad — a charge confirmed by the Central Electrical Dispatch Centre.
The current security situation has left engineers unable to fix nighttime
problems in both water and electricity networks, and at the moment one
relies almost totally upon the other.
The water system uses electrical pumps ranging between 400 volts to 11 kV,
and the total electricity consumption range is between 50 to 70 MW a day,
about five percent of Baghdad's daily power consumption. This doesn't
include the electricity required to pump water to the tanks at the top of
people’s houses.
Most water is treated at two large water plants. The April 7 project at
Rasafa is responsible for western Baghdad, and the Al-Karkh project in
Tarmia supplies water for the larger eastern side. Smaller water treatment
plants such as the Al-Wahda project, which supplies water to Medical City,
are sited around the capital to meet specific area demands.
"We treat the water and supply all water stations in Baghdad," said control
supervisor Mohammed Muthena at the Tarmia facility. "The water cut was due
to an electrical failure. We have three backup generators, two of eight
megawatts and a smaller generator of three megawatts. Unfortunately, none of
them work."
The Al-Karkh project is the fifth largest in the world and the largest in
the Middle East. It draws 1.5 billion liters of water from the Tigris at
Dijla and turns it into 1.1 billion liters of drinkable water each day.
"During the power strike we used our diesel generators for two to three
days, but when Tarmia was out of service we couldn't provide all the water,"
said Abbas Haider, an electrical engineer at Rasafa.
The generators in the Rasafa station are all operational thanks to the help
of the International Red Cross. The aid agency is now busy trying to repair
the house-sized generators at Tarmia; which in April were so overworked that
they blew up.
The Al-Karkh project supplies around 300 million liters per day to the April
7 project and thus the Rasafa region is dependent on Tarmia's operational
"If there is no power, water can still flow to the network, but very
slowly," Haider said. "During the big power cut, we pumped to Rasafa, but
because Tarmia was down we could only operate at half capacity."
Haider — a Rasafa resident himself — said he received water at home during
this time. His good fortune is almost certainly due to the repair work
carried out by the IRC on the Qanat pumping station in mid-April.
Qanat, which pumps to northern Rasafa, was missiled during the war and
received emergency repair work, including a new compressor. But many other
districts in Rasafa couldn't receive any water during the power strike
because other stations couldn't provide the necessary pressure.
"Water leaves our station through a 1.6 meter diameter pipe that runs along
the canal. There are pipes leading from it to various districts. Once the
water leaves our station, it is not our problem," Haider said. "It is a
network problem."
Short-term backup systems are in place, but these are unable to meet the
great demands illustrated by the big power cut. The reservoirs of Tijla and
Shimali — both of which are supplied by Tarmia — have tanks that can provide
a negligible emergency supply of two to three hours.

Is the water safe to drink?
Cracks in the water pipe network and reduced water pressure allow dirty and
clean water to mix. Of 11,000 km of main water pipes in Baghdad, 5,000 km
are in need of repair.
To combat the risk of contamination, two tons of chlorine are added to
Baghdad's water supply to kill bacteria.
"Our project is 45 kilometers from Baghdad. Chlorine disappears along the
pipe, reacting with contaminants. When we pump it in, the water has a
residual chlorine level of 1.5 milligrams per liter. When it comes out of
the tap, we have a residual level of 0.5 milligrams per liter," Hussein
said.The lowest internationally accepted level is 0.5 milligrams per liter.
Between April and May this year, a "rapid quality assessment" of the water
in Primary Health Care Centers in both Al-Karkh and Al-Rasafa was carried
out by Cooperazione Internazionale, a Greek NGO.
The report stated that in Al-Rasafa, 21 out of 56 samples analyzed were not
fit for human consumption. In Al-Karkh 33 out of 54 samples we deemed
unsafe. Some chlorine levels were so low they were recorded as zero. In some
water sources they found parasites and bacteria.
"Water in the system is severely contaminated, with the analysis showing
only half of it is fit for human consumption," according to a COOPI
assessment performed in May.
Drops in water pressure are also caused by excessive water usage by Baghdad
Adnan Abdallah, head of planning at the BWA, explained that some residents
have been taking large quantities of water from the network using electrical
pumps. The water drain causes pressure to drop in the pipes, sucking in
dirty water from the outside.
Keeping an eye on chlorine levels is not straightforward, even at the
stations where it is added to the water. The gauge that automatically
measures the chlorine levels at Tarmia has been broken for some time, but
the levels can be monitored in an onsite laboratory. In Rasafa, a laboratory
is used to check the level.
"Our people can use the instruments and US soldiers come and work at the
lab," said Haider, though he admitted the lab is not staffed on a daily
The supply of chlorine in Iraq is limited and more will be needed in the
not-so-distant future.
"I don't know when we will get more, but there is enough that we can work
until the end of the year without resupply. If we need more, we will ask the
Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations to help us," said Youssef
Jouad, an electronics engineer at Tarmia.

Fact and rumor
"The Tigris water is clean," said Abdullah, but tales of deliberate and
accidental water contamination are common.
"Ziala was just a rumor," he said, referring to allegations of deliberate
contamination of the river with radioactive materials. "But we have no
ability to check the radio activity percentage anyway the responsible
department no longer exists."
The possibility of accidental contamination is high. During the water
cleaning process, in addition to chlorine, the river water is treated with a
succession of chemicals which separate the water from the mud.
The unwanted muddy sludge is then pumped back into the river along with the
chemicals. Like any chemical, in high concentrations they can be harmful to
humans and the environment.
The Tarmia plant was only designed to operate until the year 2000 and is now
due for overhaul.
A document titled: "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities" produced for the
Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington DC in January 1991, lists causes
for concern in Iraqi water quality.
Apart from underlining the difficulties the water treatment industry would
suffer under sanctions it reported that drinking the highly mineralized
water in the rivers could result in diarrhoea and stones forming inside the
COOPI supported this assessment.
"These negative factors give rise to major concerns of outbreaks like watery
and bloody diarrhoea, typhoid fever, cholera and hepatitis A. In Baghdad
City, COOPI considers the threat of an epidemic is now critical and expected
to worsen," the organization stated in a press release.
So far there have only been reports of isolated incidents but summer heat is
expected to raise the risk.
On a broader level, the DIA report of 1991 also predicts that: "failing to
secure supplies (of water treatment materials) will result in a shortage of
pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased
incidences, if not epidemics, of disease and to certain pure-water-dependent
industries becoming incapacitated, including petrochemicals, fertilizers,
petroleum refining, electronics, pharmaceuticals, food processing, textiles,
concrete construction, and thermal power plants."

Published date: 7/7/2003

Author: Ralph Hassall


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