• Censored Bikinis: While reporting today's story about Samawa, an Iraqi city where democracy is blooming (this page), correspondent Nicholas Blanford ran into an lraqi TV crew from the US-funded Al-Iraqiyah network. Every day they produce two hours of local content, mostly about about the hardships and successes in the post-Hussein era. But Nick says they've had to post guards outside their building - not because of their programs, but because of the programs beamed from Baghdad.
"This is a rural, conservative part of Iraq. The local residents don't like to see scantily clad Egyptian women or music videos from Lebanon. The producer in Samawa says he has had to sit in the TV relay station with his finger on the pause button to cut out the lurid scenes fed from Baghdad," says Nick. "They've been asking Baghdad to stop broadcasting the programs."
The message was heard. During a recent broadcast of an Egyptian movie, the screen went blank for a minute when a woman in a bikini appeared on the screen. "Iraq's embrace of the principles of free speech has its limits," Nick notes.
David Clark Scott
• A Farewell to Keiko: The orca made famous by the 1993 film "Free Willy," was buried yesterday in Norway. As reported on May 31, 2000, the famous whale spent much of his life in a Mexico City aquarium. He was brought to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in 1996, then to Iceland in preparation for his return to the wild. When he was released in 2002, he swam 870 miles to a bay on Norway's west coast. He became an instant hit, and animal protection authorities imposed a ban on approaching him. The Associated Press reports that he was free to leave the bay, but seemed to prefer human company.