Monday, June 1

I'm sorry I couldn't resist

The following is from a McClatchy report, 5 years after Iraq's 'liberation,' there are worms in the water by Hannah Allam, datelined March 16, 2008. It's about the massive infrastructure problems and every other kind of problem with key services delivery that emerged from the combined whammy of the demise of Saddam's regime, the US invasion, insurgencies, and all the infrastructure problems that Saddam's regime had swept under the rug.

Plus -- plus -- the Iraqis got a rude awakening about how modern democratic government actually works.

Pile that on top of the old-style way of getting things done -- graft -- and pile that on top of everything else, and the report would be tough reading. But the practical nature of many Iraqis -- and their sense of humor -- put the bad news in context.  If both can somehow triumph over sectarian differences that today threaten to rip the country apart, Iraqis have a fighting chance to come out on top.

That is, if President Obama and the goons who pass for his national security advisers would stop trying to 'rebalance' the Middle East.              

BAGHDAD (McClatchy)— Iraq's most prominent clerics have ruled that using a water pump on one's own pipes is akin to stealing resources from a neighbor, so what does a person do when it takes half an hour to fill a cooking pot with water from the tap?
Iraqis pray for forgiveness, then pump away.
To them, the real crime is that five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they still swelter in the summer and freeze in the winter because of a lack of electricity. Government rations are inevitably late, incomplete or expired. Garbage piles up for days, sometimes weeks, emanating toxic fumes.
The list goes on: black-market fuel, phone bills for land lines that haven't worked in years, education and health-care systems degraded by the flight of thousands of Iraq's best teachers and doctors.
When the Iraqi government announced that 2008 would be "the year of services," workaday Iraqis had their doubts.
"Under Saddam's regime, we had limited salaries but we had security and decent services. Now, we have decent incomes but we lose it all to water, propane, groceries, fuel. We save nothing," said Balqis Kareem, 46, a Sunni Muslim housewife who lives in the predominantly Shiite Muslim district of Karrada. "This government gives with the right hand and takes away with the left."
At Kareem's modest, single-story home, a wall in the living room sprouts a tangle of electrical wires, a reflection of the three power sources she juggles throughout the day: the government's supply, her own small generator and the neighborhood's larger generator. Even so, for five years she hasn't been able to keep milk or meat in the refrigerator for more than a few hours because it spoils so quickly in the daily blackouts.
A kitchen cupboard holds a barely touched box of rationed tea, which Kareem described as "so bitter no amount of sugar can sweeten it." 
She said that she'd once used a magnet to clean metallic flakes from a bag of government-supplied rice. She barred her four children from drinking tap water after she found worms floating in a glass she'd poured.
The family's home phone rarely works, though earlier this month a worker from the phone company showed up demanding payment for calls that they both knew she hadn't made. Like so many employees of government utilities, he wanted a bribe.
"I just got to the point and told him, 'Don't waste my time. How much do you want?' " Kareem said. "He told me, I paid him and then went on with my day. I'm practical."
As another scorching summer approaches, everyone has to improvise to find electricity. Those who can't afford generators have to grease the meter men to look the other way as they splice wires and steal more than their permitted amount of power. At most, they'll be able to run a TV set, a couple of fluorescent bulbs and maybe the water pump. Of course, that's only when the electricity is on — never more than five hours a day and typically closer to two.
A popular joke here goes that a distraught boy approached his mother and sobbed that his father had touched a live wire and was electrocuted, to which the mother replied, "Thank God! There's electricity!"

d more here:

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