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Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Good news about Iraq? What Does That Really Mean?

In a letter today to the SF Chron (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/12/16/EDG7RG8FGU1.DTL&hw=letters+to+the+editor&sn=001&sc=1000),Chuck Huntington gives us some “good news” about Iraq.

He provides us with uplifting figures about the number of schools renovated and under construction. That’s good news. But I’d like to know what gains have been made in gender equity in enrollment. The most recent data I can find comes from a 2004 Unicef report (http://www.unicefusa.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=duLRI8O0H&b=279482&ct=258055) that points out that although enrollment in Iraqi schools has increased since 2000, 2.4 million of the new enrollees in the primary grades are boys, while only 1.9 girls have been enrolled.

Huntington cites as well encouraging employment figures from Iraq. Yet a June ’05 report from the Washington Post tells us that employment (or rather unemployment) is the second most pressing problem in Iraq and the current unemployment figure as reported by the Iraqi Labor of Ministry stands at 656,437. According to figures from the United Nations, unemployment stands at 27%, though it’s probable the figure is closer to 50%.

And finally, one more piece of “good news” that Huntington proclaims – the status of Iraq’s “independent” media: 75 radio stations, 180 newspapers, and 10 television stations. Given recent accounts of so-called “news” stories which the US Military has placed in the Iraqi media, one wonders to what extent the Iraqi media is “independent.”

But, Huntington tells us, his facts and figures are solid and can be verified by …you guessed it, The Department of Defense’s website http://www.defenselink.mil/

Facts and figures without context and comparison are useless. What do these numbers really mean?

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