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Back to Iraq: Bee reporter on second assignment for McClatchy

Adam Ashton is en route to Iraq for a second tour of duty reporting for The Modesto Bee and McClatchy Newspapers.

After brief stops in New York City and Washington, D.C., this week, Ashton is scheduled to begin reporting from the Kurdish section of northern Iraq next week. He's expecting to cover elections there July 25. Later, Ashton will join the McClatchy bureau in Baghdad.

Ashton, whose regular assignment is covering the city of Modesto, reported from the Baghdad bureau from November through January. He is one of several reporters from McClatchy newspapers who have volunteered for duty in Iraq. Ashton will relieve Mike Tharp, editor of the Merced Sun-Star.

Ashton is expected to report from Iraq for about six weeks. His stories, distributed by McClatchy, will appear in The Modesto Bee, modbee.com and dozens of other newspapers and Web sites across the country. Ashton will supplement his stories with frequent updates on the "Iraq Connection" blog.

In Iraq last year, Ashton covered the news from Iraq for an international audience but also reported on military personnel and other people with connections to California and the Modesto area. He intends to do so again on this tour.

"Hopefully, I'll be able to spend some time with some Assyrian communities that are tied to Modesto because of immigration for the past 100 years," Ashton said.

His typical day in Iraq will be long, beginning work at 9 a.m. and staying on duty until roughly midnight.

"Last time I was in Baghdad, it was winter. It was nice and cool. Weather wasn't a problem," he said. "This time it will probably be 100, 110 (degrees) every day."

"Every day's a challenge," he said. "(You) find something new every day."

Scroll down to watch a video interview with Ashton, or click video link at left.

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