British, American tourists head to Iraq

As my recent FP web-exclusive predicted, Iraq has followed in the steps of Colombia in becoming a bona fide tourist destination.

The first Iraqi-sanctioned tourist excursion to the country just concluded this Sunday -- filled with U.S. and British tourists, including a 77-year-old pensioner. The trip has been going smoothly, though with a few adventures, so to speak. "We've had security problems everywhere but we expected some of these,"  the managing director of the travel agency, Geoff Hann, told the AFP.

For now, it's still a gamble. "My friends certainly think I'm a bit mad,"  one British tourist told the BBC. But I'm betting there are many others with precisely her style of mania who will be signing up Iraq tours soon. 



Mugabe's wife beats assault rap in Hong Kong

Though it's a comparatively minor offence when you consider her husband's crimes, it's still a little disappointing that Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe will not be charged for punching Times photographer Tim O'Rourke in the face with her diamond ring while shopping in Hong Kong:

The Department of Justice in the territory issued a statement saying: “Grace Mugabe is not liable to arrest or detention, and enjoys immunity from prosecution.” These rights come under Chinese regulations on diplomatic immunity and privileges, the department said.

Hong Kong’s legal system is separate from that of China under terms of its reversion to Beijing rule in 1997, but it must apply China’s laws in cases involving foreign relations or defence.

Another Times photog got throttled by guards a month later when he tried to take a peek at the Mugabes' new Hong Kong pad.

McClatchy's Tim Johnson worries about the damage to Hong Kong's reputation if it becomes the destination of choice for Mugabe and his ilk.