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Here are some news stories and articles which might be of interest to you. I've posted the opening section, and if you want to read more, you can click on "Read the whole article" to go to the original item. You'll find a variety of things here -- current news, political analysis, opinion pieces, articles about religion -- things I've happened to read and want to share with you. It's your Reading Room, so take your time. Browse. You're certain to find something you'll want to read.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Resilient Baghdad on a Day of Horror

by David Ignatius

BAGHDAD -- From the air Sunday morning, this looked like a city restored. You could see paddle boats skimming the pond at Zahwra Park, and go-karts and waterslides. And in every direction, new schools and soccer fields and bustling warehouses -- all taking shape under the canopy of the new Iraq.

But down below, it turned out to be a morning from hell. Terrorists exploded two massive car bombs at the Justice Ministry and the Baghdad provincial administration, killing more than 100 and wounding more than 500. It was the worst day of violence this year, and it was, as the terrorists intended, a reminder of the fragility of Iraqi security.

Around the time the bombers struck, I was flying over the city in a Black Hawk helicopter with Gen. David Petraeus. As commander of U.S. forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2008, he helped restore stability here. He was returning Sunday as Centcom commander, and he decided on his way in from the airport to conduct one of his careening airborne tours of the city, which he used to make so frequently that the helicopter pilots gave them the code name "Purple Rain."

The signs of recovery seemed to be everywhere. "See, the houses are occupied again," Petraeus said, pointing to a neighborhood that several years ago was a virtual ghost town. "Always good to see a crane," he said, motioning to a new construction site. "Traffic jam, that's good to see."

Petraeus pointed out the evidence of normality -- the schools, the police stations, the sports stadiums, the bus and train stations, the parks and markets and riverside restaurants. And, to be honest, the city, seen in panorama, reminded me of the Baghdad I first visited in 1981, big and burly and, for an Arab city, fairly well organized... Read the whole article.

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Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.