Arthur Chrenkoff has just posted the latest part of his amazing, super-informative series (Good news from Iraq). I have quoted a few interesting pieces here:
**"Brig. Gen. Jeffery Hammond of the 1st Cavalry Division, says Sadr City is the safest place in or around Baghdad. About 18,000 people have reconstruction jobs, he says, earning about $6 a day. 'Sadr City is what the future of Iraq can look like,' he says. Those who were once taking up arms are now talking democracy. 'Before, the men were buying black cloth for their (martyrs') banners. Now for the election, we are buying white cloths' for posters, says candidate Fatah al-Sheikh."
**"Day after day, Carlos Valenzuela faces the same question: Can legitimate elections take place amid the chaos and bedlam that is contemporary Iraq? 'I say, "Of course,"' says the soft-spoken Colombian who is the chief U.N. electoral officer in Iraq. 'Look,' he continues from his tiny office in this fearful capital's fortified Green Zone, 'in my own country we have elections that are not perfect, that have been marred by violence and terrible intimidation. But still people go to the polls. And still the results are accepted as legitimate'."
**"Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi simply smiled during the live television show when a man called to praise terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The Iraqi leader then moved on, offering to find information about a woman's detained son and see why a student didn't get into the graduate program of his choice.
"The surprisingly frank hour-long call-in program, 'The Iraqi Podium,' is a rarity for the region, giving Iraqis the chance to pepper Allawi with questions, from the mundane to the serious. Judging by the show's popularity, Iraqis are taking advantage.
"The show's host, Abdul-Karim Hammad, said he proposed the show to Allawi, who agreed. It may be a campaign ploy as Allawi tries to burnish his image ahead of Jan. 30 elections, but from the nature of the questions, it appears the calls aren't screened.
"I told him the one condition, which is that you have to accept anything the people say even if they insult you,' Hammad said. 'He said it was fine, as long as he wasn't criticized personally, but they can say anything they want about his work."
**The Zahko Military Academy in northern Iraq will shortly be renovated at a cost of $5.2 million. "Before the Iraqi freedom war, we only trained cadets from Kurdistan. Since the war we have begun to train cadets from all provinces of Iraq. For instance, cadets from Baghdad, Baquba, Kut and Mosul are sent here for training by the Ministry of Defense," says the Academy Commandant Maj. Gen. Shihab Duhoki. Adds Rich Maskil, the project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Northern District: "The collaboration between the Kurds and Arabs is a great thing. It's a big difference going from Saddam Hussein's campaign against the Kurds to where we are now -- the Kurds and Arabs training and fighting together to provide security for a free Iraq." And in Tikrit, the new headquarters for the 30th Brigade, Iraqi Army have recently been opened.
A hunderd other stories and links from Chrenkoff here.