This mostly easygoing provincial capital, where the Euphrates River winds around as if it is in no hurry to go farther south, holds the latest sign that political power in Iraq is leaving its historical home in Baghdad for outlying regions. That sign is a local government that knows how to spend money.
Because of security threats and a seemingly immovable bureaucracy, the federal ministries in Baghdad largely failed to spend billions of dollars of Iraqi oil revenues set aside last year to rebuild things like roads, schools, hospitals and power plants.
Although some ministries have improved slightly, what has really caught the eye of Iraqi politicians is the way some local governments have begun bypassing the morass in Baghdad by using hundreds of millions of dollars of the reconstruction money they receive from the government to finance regional projects.
The above is from James Glanz' "Provinces Use Rebuilding Money in Iraq" in this morning New York Times and the subheading should be "My Audition Reel for The Next Thomas Friedman." He'a suditioning quite well even if he isn't reporting.
Isn't it good to know that even if reconstruction isn't happening on pace, the puppet government is being smart with Iraq's money? Isn't it good to know they're not wasting or borrowing. Oh, wait. They are doing both.
Glanz is on a feel good Friedman high and missed reality.
As an Iraqi correspondent notes in "Iraq Budget" (Inside Iraq, McClatchy Newspapers), not only has the puppet government's two ministries (finance and governance) spent approximately "1% of their budget!!!", the parliament's approved a Japanese loan ($860 million in US dollars).
Glanz should grasp that, though oblivious is the key characteristic to emulate when attempting to become the next Thomas Friedman, you really need some corn pone phrases that everyone ceased usage of about two decades prior. Nice try, Glanz, but keep working on it.
In other fables for the willfully dumb, it's the first month which means that not only is the Surpeme Court back in session (first Monday in October), it's also time for the paper's who bother to note the death toll (US) in Iraq to rush to print their features despite the fact that M-NF regularly and repeatedly makes announcements for the previous month after it has ended. Jim Michaels (USA Today) is jazzed on the 'news' that the death toll is 62 for September -- "the lowest levels in more than a year." But 'news' -- like bad reporting -- can shift quickly and ICCC reports it's 63 for the month of September. ICCC has updated their count since the start of the illegal war to 3804 which is also the count AP goes with. Of course, AFP reported yesterday, "US military losses in Iraq for September stood at 71 on Sunday, but the toll remained the lowest monthly figure since July last year, according to an AFP tally based on Pentagon figures." and the count since the start of the illegal war was then 3892. But don't dwell on the numbers (or the way M-NF kept reporters confused all month as they frequently refused to make announcements leading people to wait for the DoD to announce the names of the dead whose deaths were never announced).
For the record, the most recent death announced as I type this is this from M-NF today: "A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed during a small-arms fire attack while conducting combat operations in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital Sept. 30." That's only a surprise (death announcements coming on or after the first of the new month) if you've spent the last four years in a deep, deep sleep.
In other news of deaths, AFP reports that the US, like Miss Otis, regrets: "The US military said on Saturday it regrets civilian deaths, as it announced a new surge of strikes against Al-Qaeda in Iraq in which six militants were killed and a child was hit in the crossfire." Well it's good to know at least the child wasn't al Qaeda! Must have been why he or she survived, right? Those aair strikes are precision, they never kill anyone but the 'bad guys'. Probably, the child was on the verge, could have gone either way, but heard the whistle of incoming and repentned thereby ending up wounded and not dead. It's a testment to modern war fare, nee to all war fare, praise the bombs, praise the bomb makers. (And, yes, that was sarcasm.)
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