Hold your applause

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Afghanistan's continuing problems extend well beyond a bumper poppy crop, although that was about the only story grabbing world attention until Wednesday, when a suicide bomber blew up a mosque during the funeral of an assassinated mullah who had spoken openly in opposition to the Taliban.
Early news reports said that among the dead in Kandahar was the Kabul police chief, and the bomber was dressed in an Afghan army uniform.
This type of attack, sadly, is commonplace in Iraq. It's not a playbook that Afghan and U.S. officials are happy to see adopted in Kandahar, historically the spiritual center of the Taliban.
A scan of news reports filed from Afghanistan in the past two weeks indicates that the picture of progress isn't as bright as the one Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President George W. Bush were attempting to paint during Karzai's recent visit to the United States.
UFrom a report titled "Field of dreams" at usnews.com, the Web site of U.S. News & amp; World Report:
"Hajik Mohammed, 50, an elder with a deeply lined face and white curlicue beard, says he earned $4,662 last year from opium poppies on his 1-acre plot. This year's crop of wheat from donated seeds, he says, will bring just $266 total. It's not enough, he says darkly, to support his 16-member family. 'If the government and the world don't keep our promise to us, we must grow opium again."'
UFrom a May 21 Los Angeles Times piece, headlined "Afghan Gangs on Rise":
"Gangsters are like 'the snake in the sleeve,' and they pose a bigger threat to Afghanistan's emerging democracy than terrorists, said Gen. Abdul Jamil, who heads the police crime branch in Kabul."
UFrom a May 20 International Herald Tribune piece titled "Misspent: A people's good will":
"With the capital awash in money from international aid, security support and drugs, never before has corruption been so blatant, so pervasive ... the Interior Ministry is seen as graft-ridden and answerable to no one. The same goes for the justice sector. Many Afghans complain of police harassment, while judges are viewed as utterly corrupt."
Afghanistan's fragile democracy -- if the government can even be called that since one election does not a democracy make -- is at risk of unraveling.

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