OK, I said I was taking a vacation from the news, but I couldn’t resist this item, via Little Green Footballs:
On New Year’s Eve Ridaa al-Azzawi squeezed into his pointy snakeskin boots, his tight black sweater and his snazzy corduroy flared jeans, hustled down to a Baghdad hotel ballroom and partied for peace.
2008 arrived in a less-violent Baghdad, and residents said it was the first real party they had seen in years.
At the stroke of midnight, exuberant locals fired into the air with automatic rifles, sending red tracer fire streaking over the city, as fireworks lit up the sky.
While the city is still far from peaceful and many of the festive gatherings had a tentative feel, many said it was a happier occasion than they could have dared to hope just a few months ago.
"The security has changed and it took us by surprise. We’re very happy. Especially us young people," said al-Azzawi, a 22-year-old student taking a break from dancing to a traditional Iraqi band in the ballroom of the Palestine Hotel.
"I haven’t seen a happy place like this in so long. I wanted to see if I could maybe meet a few girls!" he said. "I only hope the Iraqi people can enjoy more happy times like this."
I hope so, too. If anyone has earned the right to one helluva party, it’s the Iraqi people, after all they’ve been through.
Oh, and 1428? That’s the current Islamic year. Whichever one you go by, Happy New Year, Iraq.