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Keeping score

REMARKABLE PROMISE. That’s how today’s Wall Street Journal editorial page characterizes the present moment in Iraq, despite all the country’s security problems. The Journal resolutely looks past the mounting corpses at a constitution drafted “in a spirit of compromise rare in the Middle East,” which now will be put to a vote. The editorial scores points for noting that Iraq’s October constitutional referendum will be freer and more open than the presidential election Egypt will hold this weekend. The Journal is also correct in saying that most Shiite leaders have been “remarkably restrained and responsible for three years now.”

Elsewhere, an editorial in the Financial Times applauds a recent nationwide economic census in China, conducted by 10 million data collectors, which should lead to more reliable data on the Chinese economy. Eat your heart out, Alan Greenspan. Investment figures are notoriously sketchy in some of China’s provinces, and often inflated, which means the nation’s economic managers might err on the side of applying the brakes to an economy that is only overheating in the minds of its provincial propagandists.

Speaking of specious accounting, the Washington Post today applauds the Justice Department for not doing to KPMG what it did to Arthur Andersen in the aftermath of the Enron scandal. The Feds fined KPMG $456 million for the accounting firm’s practice of helping rich people avoid U.S. taxes using what it concedes were “fraudulent tax shelters.” Justice is restraining from prosecuting the whole firm, as it did in the Andersen case. Better to go after the bad apples, the Feds have decided, assuming they can count them.

Andres Martinez

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