Faith-based, democracy YEAH RIGHT! kinda crack (read on if you dare):<br><br>crappy paste cuz I don't care anydamnhow:<br><br>Posted 1/2/2006 11:17 PM<br>Teen back in USA after taking own field trip to Iraq<br>By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY<br>Many American teens spent their holidays playing with new iPods or Xboxes, but 16-year-old Farris Hassan returns to school this week with a different tale: his solo journey to Iraq. (Related video: Teen goes to Baghdad YEAH RIGHT! LOL)<br>Without his parents' knowledge, Farris skipped a week of class to fly Dec. 11 to the Middle East, hoping to witness firsthand parliamentary elections in Iraq. He returned home to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, thanking the media for its "kind" treatment before being whisked into seclusion.<br>"He's not like a typical teenager. He engages adults in lengthy conversations," says his uncle Mohammed Hassan, an anesthesiologist in Weston, Mass. He says his nephew reads extensively about history and politics. "He's very energetic, inquisitive, determined." Farris "was very optimistic about the war" and hoped it would lead to democracy in Iraq, his uncle says. He says Farris' parents, who could not be reached for comment, are trying to shield him from the media.<br>"He went to tell people (Iraqis) that democracy is good," says his aunt Miriam Atiya, who lives in Coconut Creek, Fla.[color:red]WHY DOES'NT THAT KID JUST GO TO THE AFRICAN AMERICAN GHETTO OFF POWERLINE AND ATLANTIC DOWN THE WAY FROM HIS COCONUT CREEK HOOD? FRIKN' PROGRAMMED YOUTH, NOTHING WORSE THAN THOSE IDIOTS FOR THIS LAND.</font color=red> "But when he went there, he saw a totally different picture. [color:red]He didn't realize just how dangerous it was."</font color=red><br>She says his three-week odyssey abroad felt like forever as the family worried about his safety. "His mom, she was going crazy."<br>Farris, a junior at the exclusive Pine Crest School, where he plays football and belongs to the Teenage Republican Club, wanted to better understand Iraqi life after taking a class in "immersion journalism" in which the writer lives the life of a subject. His dad, Rehda Hassan, an anesthesiologist, planned to take Farris there in a few months, but the son didn't want to wait.<br>Using his own money, he bought a plane ticket to Kuwait and e-mailed his parents once he arrived. He planned to take a taxi to Baghdad, but the borders were closed for the elections. He rejected his family's pleas to return and flew to Beirut, where he stayed with family friends before flying to Baghdad on Christmas. He secured an entry visa for Iraq because his parents were born there, though they've lived in the USA for decades.<br>In Iraq, he stayed at an international hotel along with other Americans. He didn't leave the hotel often, but once, the non-Arabic speaker went out for food, flipping through a phrasebook for the word "menu."<br>"It was not a safe place. The way they were looking at me kind of freaked me out," he told the Associated Press after visiting the wire service's office in Baghdad. The AP called the U.S. Embassy, which helped arrange Farris' return to the USA.<br>The State Department has warned Americans not to visit Iraq. Dozens of citizens have been kidnapped since the war started in March 2003.<br>Farris faces repercussions.<br>"I don't think I will ever leave him in the house alone again," his mom, Shatha Atiya, a psychologist, told the AP. "He showed a lack of judgment."<br>Farris wrote in an essay before his trip that he wanted to visit Iraq to "broaden" his mind. "I feel guilty hanging out with friends in a cafe without the fear of a suicide bomber present."<br>"You go to, like, the worst place in the world, and things are terrible," he told the AP. "When you go back home, you have such a new appreciation for all the blessing you have there, and I'm just going to be, like, ecstatic for life."<br>Contributing: The Associated Press<br><br>-----------> tidbit from tughday:<br>AP Cuts Ties to NED-Funded Journalist<br>In other news, the Associated Press has announced its ended ties with a reporter found to have been working for the U.S. government-backed National Endowment for Democracy. The NED, which receives annual funding from the US Congress and State Department, has been linked to supporting opposition groups favorable to US government positions in countries such as Venezuela and Haiti. The reporter, Regine Alexandre had contributed at least one dozen articles for the AP and at least two for the New York Times. Her ties to the NED were exposed by independent journalist Anthony Fenton and radio host Dennis Bernstein on the radio program Flashpoints on Pacifica's KPFA.<br><br>