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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] _____ <http://xads.zedo.com/ads2/x?n=167;c=3;s=11;x=3840;u=j;z=> <http://www.sfgate.com/> SF Gate Live from Iraq, it's the real story Jon Carroll <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> Wednesday, September 3, 2003 <http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/info/copyright/> C2003 San Francisco Chronicle | Feedback <http://www.sfgate.com/feedback/> URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/09/03 /DD62001.DTL I suppose blogs have had their day as a populist phenomenon. Democratic candidates for president have blogs now, and that's pretty much the death knell for cutting-edge status. If John Kerry has one, it's not a trend, it's an appliance. But I think that's true only of blogs produced in the United States. In other countries, the Internet is still a revolutionary tool, a place for information censored in every other medium in the nation. Vox populi, and no pop-up ads. It's 1991 all over again. .5 Some of the best blogs are coming out of Iraq. They are designed for a foreign readership -- they're in English, for one thing -- and they tell a very different story from anything our media is presenting. Here's the difference: Young Iraqi bloggers know what they're talking about. They have not just arrived in country with a briefing book, a Kevlar vest and a Lonely Planet guide. My current favorite is www.riverbendblog.blogspot.com <http://www.riverbendblog.blogspot.com/> . It is written by a woman, a resident of Baghdad not otherwise identified, and it's funny and sad and constantly informative. I offer as an example one tale from last week. It's one of those "you thought this was going on but you had no data" deals. .5 Here's the setup: Riverbend has a cousin who works as a structural engineer. He is, says Riverbend, a "bridge freak"; he can spent hours talking about trusses and pillars and stuff. (It is useful to remember that Iraq, before we started destroying it, had a pretty good infrastructure of roads, bridges, water and power, education; all that. Iraq ain't Afghanistan.) The Iraqi company that employees Riverbend's cousin was asked to bid on rebuilding the New Diyala bridge south and west of Baghdad. "They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward -- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc. "Let's pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let's pretend he hasn't been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let's pretend he didn't work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let's pretend he's wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated -- let's pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let's just use our imagination. "A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around -- brace yourselves -- $50,000,000!!" She goes on to talk about all the work Iraqi engineers did rebuilding the country after the first Gulf War. She tells a story: "My favorite reconstruction project was the Mu'alaq Bridge over the Tigris. It is a suspended bridge that was designed and built by a British company. In 1991 it was bombed and everyone just about gave up on ever being able to cross it again. By 1994, it was up again, exactly as it was -- without British companies, with Iraqi expertise. "One of the art schools decided that although it wasn't the most sophisticated bridge in the world, it was going to be the most glamorous. On the day it was opened to the public, it was covered with hundreds of painted flowers in the most outrageous colors -- all over the pillars, the bridge itself, the walkways along the sides of the bridge. People came from all over Baghdad just to stand upon it and look down into the Tigris. "So instead of bringing in thousands of foreign companies that are going to want billions of dollars, why aren't the Iraqi engineers, electricians and laborers being used? Thousands of people who have no work would love to be able to rebuild Iraq; no one is being given a chance." Say, Americans: That's our money. _____ Be sure to check out her hot links too; she's done her research well. Sing it one more time like that, sing it one more time like that, sing it with email@example.com. [ image001.gif of type image/gif removed by lists.casi.org.uk - attachments are not permitted on the CASI lists ] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk