October 5, 2008 2:47 PM

Fewer black funeral banners blanket Baghdad

When a loved one dies in Iraq, hanging a black banner is the first order of business. It is a custom that existed here long before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, but over the last five and a half years, the banners have taken on new meaning. They are an informal measure of security, a way for residents to gauge whether their neighborhood is becoming more or less dangerous.

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