Donations update

BEIRUT — To all donors and contributors: A while back I sought donations for a reporting trip to Iran, and raised about $2,000. I was in the process of getting visa applications together and making other plans when the new war here broke out. Now, I’m running into a cash crunch because there are no dollars to be had in Lebanon (you can only withdraw Lebanese pounds) and rates for drivers and translators have gone up to about $300 per day. I am getting reimbursed for some — not all — of these expenses from my freelancing, but at the moment I need to pay these guys working for me.
So the Iran trip is, obviously, off. In the next day or so I will move the funds for the Iran trip into my checking account so I can continue to cover this war. If anyone who donated does not wish their donation to be used for this purpose, please let me know either in the comments or via email and I will refund your donation. I will wait a couple of days for responses to this post, but after that, I will be transferring the funds so they’ll be available to me here in Beirut. (ATMs still work.)
Also, if you want to donate to support the coverage of the Lebanese war, feel free! (Donation button to the right and at the bottom.) I’d be most grateful. I’ll also be rebranding this site in the coming days. assuming I have time. Yes, Back-to-Iraq.com likely will be no more. My original idea, “Warchaser.com,” is catchy, but doesn’t capture the mood I want. I’m still thinking about it.
Above all, sorry for the change of plans, folks. Israel threw a curveball at us.

Wow, donations for journalism?

Hey, a bold, new experiment in journalism … not.

It is with no small amount of mixed feelings that I notice that Michael Totten has embarked on a daring new experiment in reader-funded journalism.
Oh, wait. It’s not new at all. (See: Iraq.com, Back-to-)
On the one hand, I’m glad that more people are working to do their own thing and bringing nuanced, insightful journalism to the reading public without the baggage that mainstream media often attach. On the other hand, Totten usually has a somewhat conservative rah-Amurricah tone that sets my teeth a-grate. That said, he does get out there and do some reporting. While he’s not my cup of tea — I find his Middle East reporting naive and American-centric — give him a read. I’ll let you decide if it’s worth donating. I’m going to pop him $5 on principle.

Tsunami donation

B2I money goes to tsunami relief efforts

The B2I fund has been languishing in PayPal limbo for some time, so I was surprised today when I checked it to see there is $800+ in there. My apologies for not acknowledging the donations. But what I’ve decided to do is donate the entire amount in the account to one of the aid agencies for tsunami victims. (Probably ICRC or MSF.) Since I’m not actively soliciting donations anymore, nor blogging as much, I think this is a much better use of the donated funds than wasting them on my sorry ass in Baghdad.
I just wanted to let everyone know that that’s what their donations have gone to.
UPDATE: Just to let you all know… I’ve sent in $885.40 to Doctors Without Borders and marked it for special distribution to the tsunami victims. I hope it can do some good.
Please, if you feel the need to donate, do it to someone who can help those folks and not me. I don’t need the cash, but thousands and thousands of people do. Try the following aid agencies:
* “American Red Cross”:https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation-form.asp
* “UNICEF”:http://www.unicefusa.org/tsunami
* “Médecins Sans Frontières International”:http://www.msf.org/donations/index.cfm
* “Oxfam”:https://secure.ga3.org/02/asia_earthquake04
* “Direct Relief International”:https://www.directrelief.org/sections/support_us/d_donate_now.html
I hope that people will help through these agencies.

Housekeeping

The B2I fund is now over $10,000!

Last night’s interview on the Majority Report with Sam and Atrios was pretty good, I thought, aside from having to cut a dramatic story short. I suck when there are time constraints. You can download an MP3 version of the whole show (I’m in the first hour) at AirAmericaPlace.com. (You’ll need to register in order to download the files.)
Secondly, thanks to Swopa for pushing the B2I fund over $10,000! And thanks very much to everyone who has donated. So far, people have given $6,685.24, with the average size of the donation being $56.18. Along with my savings, the total fund is $10,185.24. I’ve already purchased the body armor and the flight to Amman is gratis thanks to a speaking engagement in Oslo. So now, any and all donations go straight into operations and newsgathering.
But I’m going to have to take a little break from blogging for a few days. I’m behind on finishing up about five freelance assignments that will add another $5,000 to $6,000 to the fund, so I need to concentrate on that for the moment. The interview with Mohammad Baqr al-Najafi should keep you interested for a while. He had some interesting stuff to say.
I hope to be back on Monday. Cheers!

Fund update and Air America

Wow. Thanks to some recent donations, the B2I 3.0 fund is less than $50 from $10,000. (It’s at $9,950.24 to be exact.) This is great, especially since I spent $1,200 on ProMAX Tactical Body Armor from “BulletProofMe.com”:http://www.bulletproofme.com (they’re very helpful) over the weekend. Thanks everyone for “donating!”:https://www.paypal.com/xclick/business=chris%40back-to-iraq.com&%0Aitem_name=Reports+from+the+%0AMiddle+East+by+an+independent+journalist
Also, you won’t want to miss the “Majority Report”:http://www.majorityreportradio.com/weblog/ tomorrow night on “Air America Radio”:http://www.airamericaradio.com/. I will be on during the 8 p.m. EDT hour and “Atrios”:http://atrios.blogspot.com/ will be co-hosting with Sam Seder. I will try not to be bitter about missing “Janeane Garofolo”:http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000413/.

Very busy

I’ve been extremely busy these last few weeks, and it’s affected the frequency that I can post here. My apologies.

Sorry, all, for the paucity of posts. I’ve been trying to cram about six columns and four features for the magazine where I freelance before my May departure date. I’m also teaching again, and that takes up some time in preparation. Finally, i try to study my Arabic as much as I can. I’m also researching a story on the hawala money-trading system. Something has had to give and frequent posts was the victim.
The upside is that with so much freelance work crammed into a short amount of time, it will bring in a fair amount of scratch. The downside is obvious: I don’t have the time to write so much about stories such as the United Nations nixing the plans for early elections and whether there are circumstances under which NATO might help out in Iraq.
So, again, my apologies. I wish I could write more often. I will write as often as I can.
Thanks for your understanding.

Holiday Pledge Drive

We’ve topped $1,000 in donations since the weekend. Thank you all so very much.

The Holiday Pledge Drive (into which the current round of fundraising seems to have evolved) has been a raging success. With the announcment that one donor, Currencia, would match donations that come in between Dec. 20 and Dec. 24 at 5 p.m., people have donated $1,006. And it’s not even Christmas Eve. Most sentimentally for me, one of my childhood friends, Kenneth Buswell was the one that put us over the $1,000 mark. As he so eloquently put it in his donation note: “Keepin’ yo ass alive.” Thanks, man. And thank you _all_ for your generous support.
I’m working on seeing if I can get some comments today from my sources in the PUK regarding “Saddam’s capture on Dec. 14”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000495.php, and after that B2I will take a short holiday break. I’ll be in Little Rock, Ark., for the holidays with the family until Saturday. Happy holidays everyone.