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Today's word on journalism

Friday, January 20, 2006

Variations on "truthiness":

"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."

-- Mark Twain, author, newspaperman and humorist (1835-1910)

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Vote in a small Iraqi town reflects changes in the wind

PURPLE AND PROUD: Abd Aise Abaas, a resident of Yathreeb, Iraq, displays his purple finger indicating he voted in the Dec. 15 general elections. Abaas said security was his primary concern in choosing a government. / Photo by Marshall Thompson

By Marshall Thompson

December 19, 2005 | YATHREEB, Iraq -- More than half of the Yathreeb area's 35,000 residents voted in the Iraqi general elections last week without incidence.

Although insurgents caused disruptions at other polling sites in Iraq, calm prevailed in this community not far from Logistical Support Area Anaconda. Locals said the peaceful polling rseulted not from the presence of a strong Iraqi army, but because of an idealistic shift in the insurgency.

Abd Aise Abaas, a Yathreeb resident who proudly displayed his purple finger indicating he had voted, said through an interpreter that security was his first concern in how he chose to vote. He said he doesn't feel safe in his home, but he felt perfectly safe at the polling site.

"A lot of people were there to vote, so I felt safe," Abaas said.

"There's a lot of people who are behind the chaos who are starting to change their minds. They are voting just in case."

Abaas added that Iraq would be more secure as soon as U.S. troops leave because their presence incites the insurgents. He came to talk to the U.S. military to request compensation for a TV, which was broken when soldiers apprehended a bombing suspect in his home.

"I think both the good guys and the bad guys have come to a truce," said Staff Sgt. Mitch Lupo, Co. B fire support sergeant from the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, "basically because both of them are trying to get political recognition."

Providing oversight for the elections was the last major operation for the 100-442nd, an Army Reserve unit based in Hawaii, before they go home in early January.

Near the beginning of their tour, they noticed that a good deal of the mortar fire targeted at LSA Anaconda was coming from the Yathreeb area. The unit conducted civic projects, infrastructure improvement operations, searches and patrols in the area until they've come to know several of the residents by name and know the area well enough to have nicknames for the stray dogs. They also helped train and equip the Iraqi army and Iraqi police in the area.

As a result, mortar fire from Yathreeb is down 50 percent. Although their efforts may have contributed to the relative calm elections in Yathreeb, U.S. soldiers said the Iraqi army and Iraqi police did most of the work.

"All we do is stand by to assist just in case they come up with a problem they can't handle," said Sgt. Fiti Seloti, the battalion commander's driver from Co. B of 100-442nd.

The polls started to close by 7:30 p.m. and local leaders gathered to discuss how they could improve next time. Confusion on voting districts required some voters ride buses to the next polling station, but the buses came often and the turn out was still high. Lt. Col. Brian Kent, 100-442nd commander, handed out chocolate-covered macadamia nuts to celebrate.

"They're happy now," said Sgt. Maj. Paul Estabrooks from the 100-442nd.

"They have chocolate and an elected government."


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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