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Dispatch from Scott Peterson in Iraq:

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Forget the bygone days when war correspondents filed their stories with carrier pigeons, or wore, during the Vietnam war, only helmets for protection. Covering Iraq today - when the current crisis could turn into an American-led attack with toxic results - has new requirements.

Filling every reporter's overnight bag in Iraq should be:

Portable satellite telephone and computer, which can run off a car battery, to file from anywhere. Headlamp for blackouts. Kevlar helmet, and bulletproof vest with ceramic armor plates, in case of "morning after" violence. Military-issue nuclear-biological-chemical (NBC) suit, impregnated with charcoal, with overboots and gloves, in case some contaminating substance is released during bombing. Don't forget the gas mask with hood, and disposable respiration canisters. Lots of US dollars - American Express is not taken in Baghdad. A bottle of Tabasco pepper sauce, to ward off the mysterious flavors of the Rashid Hotel's spaghetti mixtures.


Watch out for mail fraud:

Our Africa desk isn't the only one to receive a get-rich-quick letter from fake authorities in Nigeria. Such attempts at fraud account for no less than 4 out of 5 letters mailed from Nigeria to the US, according to a US postal official quoted last week. Americans are being taken to the tune of millions of dollars a year. Recipient, beware.

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