الاثنين، أكتوبر 27، 2008

Tales From Iraq

From Kitabat.com (article by Jalil Ibrahim al-Mandilawi):

Three Iraqi contractors were bidding for a contract for the construction of a wall around a local municipal council. The first contractor proposed a bid of $1000 ($400 for construction materials, $400 for the laborers, and a profit of $200). The second contractor proposed $700 ($300 for materials, $300 for workers, and a profit of $100). The third contractor offered a bid of $2700. The head of the municipal council angrily asked the contractor why he proposed such a high bid. "It's very simple," said the contractor, smiling. "A thousand for me, a thousand for you, and we'll give the $700 to the second contractor to finish the job."

الاثنين، أكتوبر 20، 2008

Children of Sadr City

An Iraqi boy drinks from a broken pipe in Sadr City. A United Nations report found that 94% of boys in Iraq attend elementary school, but that number drops to 44% by high school. For girls, 81% start elementary school; 31% go on to attend high school.

The Raad brothers, and tens of thousands of children like them in this poor walled-in Shiite Muslim district, have been shaped by war, honed by poverty. They are witnesses to sectarian violence, Shiite militias, angry sermons echoing through mosques, Humvees gurgling through streets and pictures of religious leaders and wanted men hovering on billboards. These children may not know grammar and punctuation, but they know what to do when the bullets come, how to take cover, to hide from the kidnappers, the militants and the soldiers.

Bloodshed and years of unrest are harsh teachers, especially in Sadr City, where 30% of children have quit school, according to a Baghdad human resources office. That estimate is probably low. A United Nations report found that 94% of boys in Iraq attend elementary school, but that drops to 44% by high school. For girls, 81% start elementary school; 31% go on to high school.


More.

الأربعاء، أكتوبر 15، 2008

I wanted to share a funny email I received this morning (translated from Arabic):

A financial expert was asked to explain in simple layman's terms the reasons behind the recent stock market crash. He thought for a while and said: “A man traveled to a far away village and offered its inhabitants to buy every single donkey they owned for $10. Many villagers rushed to sell him their donkeys. The next day he raised the price to $15, and even more villagers sold their donkeys. Later he raised the price to $30, and the villagers sold until they all ran out of donkeys. Then he said, ‘I will pay $50 for every single donkey,’ and he went to spend the weekend in the city. The man’s assistant visited the village the next day and offered to sell back the villagers’ donkeys for $40 each, provided they sell them back to his master for $50 each on Monday. The villagers went into all their savings in order to buy back their donkeys. Those who did not own anything rushed to borrow from their neighbours, hoping to make a quick profit. They never saw the man or his assistant again. When the next week arrived, there were only two things left in the village: debts and donkeys.”