MARCHING ORDERS. Back in 2002, months before U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad, American soldiers were told they would be heading for Iraq. At least that's what a soldier in Hinesville, Georgia, a town outside the army base of Fort Stewart, told me last weekend. Now the news is different. Soldiers in three separate units in Fort Stewart have been saying they are now being informed that they will soon be deployed for 12 to 18 months -- and they should plan on going to Iran. At least that's what I heard from an army wife in Hinesville. I didn't really believe her.
CONDUCT UNBECOMING. Last month, I spoke on the phone with a former army officer, S.P., who told me he had been invited to Fort Lewis, Washington, by Lt. Ehren Watada. Watada, as you may recall, became a minor media celebrity last summer when he refused to go to Iraq because he did not support the war. (He said he�d go to Afghanistan instead, but the army said no.) Watada could be sentenced to up to four years for "missing movement" and "conduct unbecoming a gentleman" (in his case, that means criticizing the Bush administration), and he had hoped S.P. would speak in his defense at the court-martial in Fort Lewis.
HORTON'S "NO COMMENT." Being a lawyer is the best job in the world because you get paid to read -- at least that�s what a lawyer friend once told me. Of course, most of the reading would put ordinary people to sleep. The good news is that being a lawyer can turn you into a strong reader. Human rights attorney Scott Horton is an excellent example: He teaches at Columbia University and has worked at the swanky Avenue of the Americas firm Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler, and, in his spare time, is the author of a daily email, �No Comment,� in which he reads a prodigious amount of material, ranging from the Guardian to Der Spiegel to le Monde, and summarizes the news in an intelligent, engaging, and passionate manner.
RIP. Ryszard Kapuscinski died on January 23 in Warsaw, Poland. He has been called the world�s greatest foreign correspondent -- and for good reason. He started traveling in Africa in the early 1960s and later reported on events in Latin America, the Middle East, and other regions, first filing stories for PAP, the Polish news agency (he says that�s how he learned his laconic style), and then working on books like the acclaimed volume The Soccer War, which covers conflicts in Congo, Nigeria, Guatemala and other countries in the developing world from 1958 to 1976.
Al Jazeera has been called "the terrorist network," a "beheadings channel," and "a mouthpiece for Osama bin Laden." Yet there was Dave Marash, 64, Al Jazeera's improbable anchor, sitting at his computer in a seventh-floor corner office in its K Street location, surrounded by mementos from his work as an Emmy-award-winning Nightline correspondent -- a William Gaddis novel on a shelf, an Eva Cassidy plaque on a wall, and a Ghanan akuaba'a fertility doll on top of bookshelf.