Reporters on the Job

The Drought Beat: Correspondent Mark Rice-Oxley went to Sutton to report on the area of England with the strictest water-conservation measures. But, he admits, his own neighborhood in Kingston is not far behind.

It's at the first level of British water restrictions - a ban on the use of hoses to water lawns, gardens, and wash cars. Normally, he has a small garden that gets under way this time of year. But that's going to be difficult.

Like many of his neighbors, he has ordered a "water butt," which is a 100-liter tank that catches rainwater - when there is rain to catch. Unfortunately, "all the shops are sold out. I ordered one a month ago, and now they're saying it won't be delivered until July," says Mark.

As a parent, he does find at least one upside to the Mediterranean climate that's settled over England. "Our oldest boy started school this year. It's a one- mile walk, and I used to worry about what might happen when it rains, since it's hard enough to get him out the door in good weather. Well, since September, it has never rained, at least on a school day. It's been dry every single day."

No Iraqi Head Count: Staff writer Dan Murphy watched on TV Saturday as Iraq's parliament voted in a new cabinet. He was looking to see how big a majority Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government would get, and from which members. "There have been stories swirling for weeks about splits within the Shiite bloc, and splits within the Sunni bloc. Finally, I thought the voting would give us some clarity about those rifts," he says. But formal voting wasn't held. Instead, names for each post were read out and there was a show of hands for support. "Even the show of hands didn't help much. One Sunni Arab legislator put up his hand about half the time. Was this a protest or did he just forget to keep raising his hand?"

David Clark Scott
World editor

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