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Iraqis suffer in the Lok

Beep, beep, beep. Then the text comes: "President Bush calls for a timetable for the withdrawal of the Iraqi people from Iraq." It's not a news update. It's Omar Abdul Kareem's relentlessly beeping cell phone - and one of the 20 or so humorous text messages he gets every day from his friends.

In a city bereft of entertainment, text messaging and swapping ringtones are all the rage for young Iraqis trying to lighten their lives. Most restaurants, cafes and movies have closed due to the country's security situation.

The content of the text messages and ringtones speak volumes about the state of affairs here: jokes and songs about suicide bombings, sectarianism, power outages, gas prices, Saddam Hussein and George Bush. Cell phone shops, the only crowded stores these days, sell special CDs with ringtones at about $2 apiece. Collections of short jokes especially written for textures are best-sellers.

Iraqis fiddling with their cell phones on the streets look like New Yorkers hooked on iPods. "It's not like there's much to do around here," Abdul Kareem said. "It's perhaps the only venue to express ourselves. "He used to buy $60 worth of prepaid phone cards a month to text to his girlfriend - until they broke up. After sending her a lot of "I miss you" texts, he's moved on. Now he sends his aunt dozens of jokes, most of them at the expense of ethnic Kurds.

The daily reality of violence and explosions has influenced every aspect of Iraqi life - including love notes. "I send you the tanks of my love, bullets of my admiration and a rocket of my yearning," one popular message reads. A popular ringtone features the music from Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise." But the local version includes a voice similar to Saddam's rapping in English: "I'm Saddam, I don't have a bomb/Bush wants to kick me/I don't know why/smoking weed and getting high/I know the devil's by my side. "The song concludes with: "My days are over and I'm gonna die/all I need is chili fries" as a crowd yells "Goodbye forever, may God curse you."



嘟--嘟--嘟!短信来了:“布什总统拟订将全体伊拉克人赶出伊拉克的时间表。” 这不是一条新闻,而是阿布杜勒·卡里姆收到的一条手机短信,卡里姆每天都会从朋友那里收到20条左右的搞笑短信,所以,他的手机总是嘟嘟嘟的响个不停。