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Reporters on the Job

LIBERATION DAY: Polish survivors of the Nazi concentration camp in Mauthausen, Austria, marched Sunday to commemorate the anniversary of their liberation by US troops in 1945.

Rudi Brandstaetter/AP

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Closed to the Public: Staff writer Howard LaFranchi says he is often asked by readers about the condition of the Iraqi National Museum, which was severely looted after the US invasion in 2003.

"The museum is still closed to the public, for lack of security," says Howard. A recent trip to the museum gave him a small taste of the problem. "As we walked in, small-arms fire rang out in the adjacent street and the Monitor security team hustled me inside," Howard says.

The museum still lacks an up-to-date security system and large pieces are draped in plastic. No date is set for reopening. But spokesman Qasim al-Basri told Howard that the government of Italy is assisting in the restoration of the Assyrian and Islamic halls. "Until now, some powers in the Iraqi government have resisted substantial funding of the museum because of its emphasis on Iraq's pre-Islamic cultures. So maybe getting the Islamic hall in shape will open up the purse strings," he says.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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