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2003

The year in Chicago history via the pages of the Reader

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"Walking home after the sixth game, again I heard the honk of geese overhead. They were crossing the sky not in a V formation but in a ragged line, unable to settle on a leader, heading dead west. It was like an omen out of Macbeth."

—Ted Cox, describing the Cubs' playoff collapse against the Florida Marlins

The U.S. invades Iraq

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At around 6:30 PM on Thursday, March 20, Andy Thayer and an estimated 10,000 other demonstrators marched onto Lake Shore Drive to protest the war in Iraq. Three and a half hours later he was sitting handcuffed in the back of a police wagon. He was taken to jail and held until Friday afternoon.

Exactly why the police arrested Thayer and more than 700 others&mdashincluding people who weren't part of the march—is being fiercely debated by demonstrators and city officials. But they all agree on one point: the mass arrests were the police department's way of reminding antiwar protesters who controls the streets of Chicago.

—from "Taken by Surprise" by Ben Joravsky



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Scott Portman arrived in northern Iraq in August 1991, a few months after the end of the gulf war. One of his first tasks was to survey the towns and villages that had been destroyed in Saddam Hussein's campaign to depopulate rural Kurdish land in the late 80s. He was shocked by what he saw. More than 4,000 villages had been destroyed, in an area 300 miles long and up to 100 miles wide. This was the same campaign in which the Iraqi military used chemical weapons in more than 250 attacks, including the notorious one on the town of Halabja. More than 100,000 Kurds were also rounded up and executed . . .

[Portman's] convinced the human rights abuses won't end until Saddam and his power base are gone, and has reluctantly come to believe that the only way this can happen is if the world forces the regime out. "In Iraq I came in contact with a very palpable evil," he says. "To let that system continue indefinitely is more intolerable to me than the idea of a war to end it."

—from "War: What It's Good For" by Kitry Krause


The tough-minded rulers in Washington
Who targeted Saddam Hussein
Proclaimed the worst part of the fighting done
And now are at pains to explain
As conditions get bad in the slums of Baghdad
And the eyes and the attitudes 'arden,
'Ow many Iraqis, already 'alf mad,
Now turn to the tribe of bin Laden!
—from "The Song of Osama bin Laden"
by Tom Chalkley

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