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Great Weblogs for Not-so-great Times 

Blogging the war

Citizens who get all of their war news from television shows that refuse to air images of bloody or broken bodies. Now there's a horrifying thought.

Inquiring minds demand an explanation: Where's our gore?

If "embedded journalism" is simply the newest phase in the evolution of war as a network video game--and it is--someone needs to point out that the graphics on this particular level are a bit on the dull side.If the selective realism of mainstream war news is losing its appeal, try replacing the delicate sensibilities of the newspaper and TV with a few sharp, intelligent Weblogs like the ones below. They each link to lots of others, which themselves link to still more, which makes it easy to explore for days at a time.

Before you know it, you'll forget you ever knew what Tom Brokaw looked like.

Excellent independent journalism and analysis from Christopher Allbritton, an experienced pro who's covered Iraqi Kurdistan in the past. He's been raising money so he can return to Iraq and cover the war on his own terms, without answering to the bottom-line logic of corporate media. Allbritton has bought a satellite phone, a laptop, rations and first aid supplies as fast as the donations have come in, and plans to e-mail his dispatches to his brother, who'll post them to the blog.

Would you believe an anonymous full-time mom with a self-described "haphazard" education is one of the most thoughtful and engaging political bloggers on the Net? "Jeanne D'Arc" covers civil liberties, feminism, religion and culture with equal intelligence. Lately, she's been exploring possible next steps for the antiwar movement, as well as the specifics of Iraq's humanitarian crisis and the confusion this bizarre war has stirred in her.

A smart, skeptical look at life in Baghdad from the understandably anonymous "Salam Pax." Folks used to argue about the site's authenticity but that seems to have gone by the wayside as coalition bombs began to fall. The level of detail is impossible to imagine from someone who wasn't right there at ground zero.

One of the most calm and intelligent anti-war voices on the Net, George Paine is at his best providing "a bird's eye view of the perpetual, 1984-style war we've found ourselves in," with particular emphasis on analyzing the rapid, ongoing erosion of U.S. civil liberties.

Atrios writes one of the left's most popular blogs. Sharp, sarcastic and selective, he's credited with breaking the recent story about the fake "grassroots" letters the GOP had been sending to newspapers around the country. He was also heavily involved in bringing down Trent Lott. His agenda-setting collection of daily links is always worth a stop.

Sean-Paul Kelley has gone nuts. That's the only explanation for why he'd voluntarily turn his blog into a constantly updated, minute-by-minute collection of the most current news available about the Iraq war. He offers minimal editorializing but still manages a personal touch, although be warned: The site starts to feel breathless after awhile.

Wondering about Iraqi civilian casualties? Good luck finding anything on U.S. television, unless you get al-Jazeera or another Arabic-language satellite channel. Iraq Body Count isn't technically a Weblog, but it includes a well-sourced database of "collateral damage" incidents and keeps a running "minimum" and "maximum" civilian death toll.

Simple, beautifully designed clearinghouse offers a stack of informative links every weekday. If you only have time to read one political Weblog, bookmark this one.

Got a few hours? Grab a pot of coffee (or a pint of vodka) and start browsing through this list. You're guaranteed to find one or more thoughtful bloggers whose voice and choice of topics speak directly to you. A perfect jumping-off point. EndBlock

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