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Saturday, July 5

Hot Fun in the Summertime! Baghdad's Pools Are Open! "A hopeful sign of progress"...???????

WTF am I missing here?

Oh, I forgot. The US bombed the snot out of these pools and parks in the first place. I suppose the least they can do is repair them.

From the AP (Sebastian Abbot):

Iraqi boy's first swim hopeful sign of progress

Across the city this summer, a handful of parks and pools are opening to the public. And places like Zawra Park, where three swimming pools opened Saturday after repairs financed by the U.S. military, are drawing crowds of Iraqi families.
Iraqi families now often spend the entire day in the park, al-Mandalawy said. With temperatures regularly over 100 degrees, the parks provide a much needed respite. On Saturday, birds chirped amid the overhanging trees. Patches of green grass, a little parched, lay underneath.

The tranquility contrasts sharply with the period after the U.S.-led invasion when the park was hit by mortar fire, al-Mandalawy said. Some of the animals in the park's zoo were stolen.

Now, violence in Iraq has dropped to its lowest level in more than four years. The reasons: The 2007 buildup of U.S. forces, a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq and government crackdowns against Sunni extremists and Shiite militias, among other factors.

Most of the children at the pool, like al-Tammimi, were sons or daughters of local officials who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the pools' opening.

But officials say the pools are open to the general public.

(Too bad they're still waiting in those long gas lines trying to get to the swimming pools!)

At least one other public pool has opened recently in Baghdad and another is being built along Abu Nawas street — the riverside promenade along the Tigris River's east bank, long closed to the public.

Abu Nawas street reopened late last year after a $5 million joint American and private project to build parks and playgrounds along its length. In the late afternoon sun Saturday, it was filled with shouting children and their strolling parents.

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