Interesting how the bad news is dominating, but there is good news, just have to look for it: http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/21748.htm HANDS OF HOPE By DEBORAH ORIN May 28, 2004 -- IT'S their gentleness, their sense of joy and optimism, that's so amazing and so moving after the savagery they faced. They are seven Iraqi men whose right hands got chopped off on Saddam Hussein's orders on charges of trading in U.S. dollars. Chopped off by doctors in an obscene travesty of medicine, but so sloppily that they were in constant pain. They are here, thanks to filmmaker Don North and the kindness of many Americans to arrange free treatment and individually cast high-tech right hands that have given back some of what they lost. Like Nazar Joudi, 41, who wrote a final letter to his wife with his right hand before it was chopped off and now has used his new artificial right hand to write her a new letter of hope. "I arrived in the United States with one hand I am leaving with two," said Hassan al Gearawy, 42, who sported a small American flag in his lapel and is thrilled that he can now hold two of his children by the hand at the same time. Somehow they manage to speak without bitterness and even talk hopefully of reconciliation with people from Saddam's regime. "The doctors who committed this crime and it's not an operation, it's a crime they have to be tried and then punished and the punishment is according to the views of the new Iraqi government," said Basim Al-Fadhly, 43. "But there is also forgiveness. There are many Iraqi citizens who have to be forgiven so that we can work together for a new Iraq," adds Al-Fadhly who proudly wears a big pinkie ring on his new right hand. Their gentleness is such a contrast to the bitterness of so much American political talk today. From these men who suffered unspeakably, there is no rage, no spewing of anger. Compare their talk with the bitter personal attacks in Al Gore's nonstop rant against President Bush on Wednesday. Funny how you haven't heard much about them. They came to Washington to say thank you to President Bush, thanks to wounded U.S. soldiers, and to lay a wreath at Arlington Cemetery in memory of U.S. troops who died to liberate Iraq. The Washington Post has covered their amazing story of hopes and gratitude to America, but so far The New York Times has ignored them. Few major newspapers or TV outlets bothered to show up at their press conference right in downtown Washington. "If it doesn't blow up and you don't get your throat slit, the media is not showing it. Good things don't sell," says Dr. Joe Agris, one of the Houston plastic surgeons who donated his services to help the seven men. Dr. Agris, who's been to Iraq and wants to go back, speaks of the sense of "normalcy" in many areas of Iraq that never gets reported and gets angry when he talks about his fear that America will "win the war and lose the media." Don North, who found the men and brought them to America, was startled that some people from whom he sought help were reluctant for fear that helping the men might also help Bush. "I said, 'They're amputees, how about helping them?"' he recounts. (Among those who did help: Drs. Agris and Fred Kessler; Houston Methodist Hospital; Otto Bock HealthCare which donated the prosthetic hands; Dynamic Orthotics which fitted them, and Continental Airlines.) North is also having trouble finding a U.S. distributor for his documentary about the men, "Remembering Saddam." "No surprise," says Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council, which brought the seven Iraqi men to Washington. "The focus in the media is on what's going wrong and this is a picture of hope, so it's harder to market." It is said that Sergio de Mello, the much-respected U.N. envoy killed in a 2003 Baghdad bombing, stayed in Iraq because he fell in love with the Iraqi people, heirs to one of the world's oldest civilizations. To listen to these men talk about their dreams one is now a journalist, another wants to go to a U.S. college is to understand why de Mello felt that way. And to have hope for the future of Iraq. Deborah Orin is The Post's Washington Bureau Chief.