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Bouquets & brickbats for media

Los Angeles, March 26 (Reuters): A majority of Americans who favour the war with Iraq believe media coverage of the conflict has been excellent, while most critics of the war disagree, according to a poll.

A joint weekend survey conducted by CNN, USA Today and the Gallup organisation found that 57 per cent of Americans who support the US-led invasion of Iraq believe media coverage was “excellent”, while 33 per cent rated it “good”. Just 10 per cent of pro-war respondents thought media coverage of the war was “only fair/poor”.

Respondents opposed to the war were more divided, with only 38 per cent agreeing that war coverage was excellent and just 23 per cent rating it as good. The remaining 39 per cent of anti-war Americans found coverage fair to poor.

Blasts in Italy

Rome (Reuters): Two cars belonging to US military personnel from a base in northern Italy were blown up overnight by rudimentary bombs, police said. The cars, owned by military people working at the Southern European Task Force in Vicenza, were destroyed while parked on streets near the base. There were no injuries. The police said they believed the attacks, which occurred some 30 minutes apart, were a protest against the war in Iraq.

Freedom toast

Macdill Air Force base (Reuters): On US President George W. Bush’s Air Force One flight to Florida on Wednesday it was au revoir French toast, hello “Freedom toast”. “Stuffed Freedom Toast” topped the breakfast menu, in a subtle slap at the French for helping to confound US attempts to get the UN Security Council to authorise military force against Iraq.

The name change for the venerable breakfast dish — in this case stuffed with cream cheese — followed similar moves by the US Congress and some restaurants across the country to change “French fries” to “Freedom fries”.

Pope plea

Vatican City (Reuters): Pope John Paul II on Wednesday made a fresh appeal for peace in Iraq and said his heart was “oppressed” by the news of battles. Speaking to pilgrims and tourists in St Peter’s Square, the Pope asked Catholics around the world to continue praying for peace. The Pope, who headed the Vatican’s diplomatic campaign to avert war, said when he prayed he did so “with a heart that is oppressed by news that reaches us from an Iraq in war”.

Help from India

Mumbai: Five men from three Islamic organisations in the city plan to leave for Iraq on Sunday to form part of the human shields to defend their religion, reports our special correspondent. Denied visas by Iraq, they applied for Jordanian visas, which they have just been granted. They will travel to Jordan by air, from where they will take the road to Iraq. Their journey is being coordinated by some Indian students in a Baghdad university, who are also in touch with other activists in Iraq to form human shields against US targets. The three organisations — Raza Academy, All India Sunni Jamiyat Ul Ulema and Sunni Tableeghi Jammat — also got together to protest against the killings of Kashmiri Pundits in Nadigram. At a demonstration by more than 100 members from their community, speakers said that Islam stands for peace.

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