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Planet Earth

How Surreal is Somalia?

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorAugust 9, 2011 7:52 PM

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"It's kind of this post-modern, science fiction chaos," said J. Peter Pham, an expert on Somalia with the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

That description comes from a weekend article in the Buffalo News. It's actually a profile of an anonymous NY state bureaucrat that opens this way:

His first day back to work was a bit surreal. Less than two months ago, he was prime minister of Somalia. He battled terrorists, pirates and warlords. He addressed dignitaries from the United Nations. Now, Mohamed A. Mohamed is back at his old job at the [NY] state Department of Transportation downtown, back to his little cubicle with a window overlooking Swan Street.

That was the job he had before becoming Somalia's prime minister. That's Somalia.

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