Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Suicide Bombings And A Fishing Tournament In Baghdad













Things are heating up in Iraq. When the first of two recent bombing incidents took place, I was covering a quirky lifestyle story. “Operation Catch Fish,” the second annual fishing competition in Iraq. That afternoon, in eastern Baghdad a suicide bomber killed 26 at the Police Academy practically in the backyard of FOB Shield, the base I was staying on a couple weeks back. Then today (Tuesday 3/10/09) another attacker struck a Peace a Reconciliation Conference in the western part of the city killing 33. I got the news via Yahoo. The odds of being on the scene of an incident aren’t very high and getting to the scene of a bombing isn’t easy to orchestrate. Covering a story like that would be the luck of the draw - being at the right/ wrong place depending on your viewpoint.

Decorations for the fishing competition were provided by KBR, a few pink flamingos staked into the ground across from Flintstone Village. Saddam Hussein built Flinstone Village, a playground for his grandkids modeled after Bedrock, straight from the cartoon-more on that in my next entry about the Al Faw palace complex. There were non-alcoholic beers on hand and Operation Catch fish T-shirts. Joe Mercurion and Eric Mannino came up with the concept and made it a reality by getting a handful of sponsors including one who donated the poles.
Corporal Jason Spakman caught the winning fish, a 13-pound carp in front of the unfinished "Victory Over America Palace." A Palace Sadam Hussein was not able to finish. It was bombed in 2003 along with many other sites that make up the Al Faw Palace Complex, which was used by the Bathe Party big shots. Now it is headquarters to American military. The man made lakes around the complex are stocked with bass and carp. Soldiers fish at various spots along the banks. Jason recieved a 26 inch flat screen TV as his prize. This year 450 troops participated in the event, up from 250 the first year. The organizers plan to bring another 250 poles next year despite talk of a draw down of troops.







images all shot during competition. Top bottom right is an image of the winner with winning fish in from of the Victory Over America Palace

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